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The Photography of John Kouns An exhibition and discussion of historical photographs from the civil rights and United Farm Worker movements.

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Presentation on theme: "The Photography of John Kouns An exhibition and discussion of historical photographs from the civil rights and United Farm Worker movements."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Photography of John Kouns An exhibition and discussion of historical photographs from the civil rights and United Farm Worker movements.

2 “This Felix Zapata and on the back he has a little story. I think I probably got it from El Malcriado, but it tells a little bit about him. He’s holding his hat over heart, his big Stetson, and he’s thanking the union for fixing his car. It’s just what the union can be about in helping the workers. You can see he’s so grateful for their help.” -- John Kouns The inscription on the back of the photo reads: “I was born in Mexico and grew up in Texas. I worked on the cotton compress there and worked hoeing cotton for 70 cents an hour. My family helped me when they could. Eventually my children had to drop out of school. I feel badly that they left school. But I knew from the beginning that my kids would be working in the fields because what else could they do? I knew I had no money to keep them in school, and unless our children stay in school, they will always work in the fields. Maybe when the strike is over and the union is strong with paying members we can save some money for our children to go to school.”

3 This picture is of Julio Hernandez who was, I think, the first vice president of the union and his son John. They look very much alike. Of course, he has a grizzled, farmworker face and his son has wonderful flowing hair. Again, this is a picture that I thought worked because the future of his child could depend on the success of the union. I remember Julio talking to me about how you can’t get things for your children if you don’t have the money. I see him every once in a while and I remember him saying, “You know if the kids want a watermelon and it’s hot in the summer and if you are in the union, you might not have enough money to buy the watermelon for your child. That’s been the biggest sacrifice.” I’m sure it’s worth it, but this is one of the things that kind of hurt him. -- John Kouns

4 This is Carolina Franco and she was a very enthusiastic union member. She’s holding a candle. I think this was taken in Modesto. Every night we would stop somewhere and there would be a meeting. If there was a hall, we’d go to the hall, otherwise we’d hold it on the back of a truck if there was no place else. The Plan for Delano would be read and the teatro would perform and music and songs would be sung and stating what we were going to be doing the next day. It was a wonderful thing. -- John Kouns

5 This is a picture of Luis Valdez who started the Teatro Compesino in the United Farmworkers. The eagle in the background is the symbol of the union. Luis has a strong, kind of devilish look and I think the symbol and Luis’ face go well together in this shot. -- John Kouns

6 Here the Teatro performs on the back of a truck. That’s Luis in the center and his brother, Danial, I believe is on his right. On the left is Felipe Cantu. I forget who is playing the cop. -- John Kouns

7 This is Felipe Cantu in an interesting theatrical pose. Esquirol means scab in Spanish. In the Teatro, they had different signs to identify who they were. -- John Kouns

8 This is a picture of a Mexican picketer and he was kind of presenting himself to me to take his picture. I like the enthusiasm he expresses and it looks like he’s doing well for the cause. -- John Kouns

9 Grower Jack Pandol (center) was a character. He would come out to the picket line and bring his bullhorn sometimes and over talk who’s ever talking to the workers. He and Dolores (Huerta with megaphone) used to get into conversations. Here she’s holding the bullhorn and he’s smirking and she’s talking to the workers in the field. -- John Kouns

10 This is a picture of Cesar taken about 1972 or ’73. It was taken at San Rafael in Marin County. The Independent-Journal was the newspaper there and they were notoriously anti union. They had a lockout of the workers and Cesar came and spoke at a rally supporting the workers. That was one of the things that was so successful for the union was Cesar’s ability to work with and involve the outside community. Of course, he had a great union backing from other unions in the state. One of the reasons was that he would go out and support them. He tried to spread the word to both the civilian and union population. -- John Kouns

11 This was at the UFW convention in Fresno, Ca. Cesar is clapping his hands and in the background is a big mural depicting growers and Teamsters battling the UFW. This was while the strike was going on in Salinas. -- John Kouns

12 One of my most favorite people in the union is Richard Chavez, Cesar’s brother. This was taken in Watsonville in 1998 during the strawberry strike. I believe it was 1998. This is of course after Cesar died and in the background is a picture of Cesar.

13 Three ladies that I call the Ladies of the Strike. Top is Dolores Huerta, vice president of the union, (middle) Cesar’s mother Juana Estrada Chavez and (foreground) Peggy. I don’t recall her last name. -- John Kouns

14 Robert Kennedy in Filipino Hall in Delano I believe 1966. Senator Robert Kennedy at UFWOC headquarters during his visit to Delano with the Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor. One of the nice things about farmworker union meetings were all the children there. It was like going to a Pentecostal church or something. It was babysitting in a sense. You know they had quite a few children. Kennedy sits among three little children and they are all doing different things. The one child sitting next him is looking up to him as if he’s some kind of a god. -- John Kouns

15 Here’s a group shot at the end of the fast. Bottom row from left; Helen Chavez (Cesar’s wife), Robert Kennedy and Cesar and then his mother Juana. -- John Kouns


17 This photograph is of King (Martin Luther) and they are listening to Ralph Abernathy of CORE giving a talk. Very seldom do you see a picture of King laughing, but I’m sure he laughed a lot. They said he had a great sense of humor. Most situations that I happen to see him in, it was usually after something happened and it was usually pretty grim. I think it’s one of the pictures of King that I like the best. -- John Kouns

18 This is a picture of Martin Luther King (right) with one of the marchers and they were waiting in front of Brown’s Chapel in Selma. This gives another picture of King with his funny looking hat on. -- John Kouns

19 This picture shows and I’m sure it’s her grandmother or great- grandmother or friend grandmother holding her hand and the child carries a sign that says, “March for jobs and freedom.” It kind of has a feeling of hope for the future. -- John Kouns

20 This is just a simple photograph, but I kind of like it. It depicts the feeling of wanting freedom. I think photographers read more into photographs than is there after the photograph’s been hanging around for some time. You know these photographs are 40 years old now. -- John Kouns

21 This photograph shows a woman with her eyes closed and it looks like she’s kind of feeling the whole thing. To the left, you see someone with a newspaper in their pocket and you can just see a little bit of the word Evers. That’s Medgar Evers who was killed in Mississippi. I don’t know if that happened the day before, but I imagine it did. So you read the headlines you can almost read into the photograph. -- John Kouns

22 End Presentation Photographs and comments compiled by Jim Moore

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