VOTING RIGHTS EXHIBIT & PRESENTATIONS WITH PAJARO VALLEY ARTS
Vote! Your Vote is Your Voice / ¡Vote! Su Voto es Su Voz, is an exhibit of art and historic artifacts with films and educational programs about historic and current voting rights issues, to run April 3-May 26, 2019 at Pajaro Valley Arts gallery, 37 Sudden Street, Watsonville, CA 95076
Thursday April 25th 6-8 PM This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight – A special presentation
NOTE SPECIAL LOCATION: Watsonville Civic Building Community Room (4th Floor)
As part of Pajaro Valley Arts “Vote! Your Voice is Your Vote” exhibit, former Watsonville resident and nationally known author and speaker, civil rights veteran Maria Gitin will present historic images and stories from the grassroots activists of rural Alabama in the 1965 struggle for voting rights. Gitin worked in and will cover the less known but violent period of the Civil Rights Movement following the March to Montgomery and prior to President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A freshman at San Francisco State College, Gitin felt called to action after witnessing violent state troopers attack peaceful voting rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama. She joined a summer voter registration and education project along with 400 other college students. After training in Atlanta, from dignitaries including Martin Luther King Jr. himself, she was assigned to rural Wilcox County where the majority African American citizens were attacked, fired and arrested for simply attempting to register to vote. Gitin spent the summer working and walking with courageous local Black activists and sometimes running from the Ku Klux Klan. Her memoir of that summer, “This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight” was published by University of Alabama Press in 2014. Since that time, Gitin has presented more than fifty times including as keynote speaker for the US Army Presidio of Monterey, King County Washington, the National Park Service in Selma and Emory University. This is her first slide show presentation in Watsonville.
More about Vote! Your Voice is Your Vote/ ¡Vote! Su Voto es Su Voz Exhibit and presentations
Originally co-imagined with Bob Fitch, I’m honored to serve as both curator and presenter of this important exhibit. Vote! seeks to educate, inspire, and develop greater interest in the nonpartisan democratic process. We draw on the involvement of current and former Watsonville residents who wein the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and Chicano Voting Rights action of the 1980’. We will share our experiences through art, educational panels, and film. Selections of Bob Fitch photos and Maria Gitin’s civil rights movement archives illustrate their experience as young voting rights workers in Alabama. Artifacts from Santa Cruz County Elections Clerk Gail Pellerin and Watsonville City Clerk Beatriz Vasquez Flores will be on display. A visual timeline developed by local artists guides visitors through voting rights history. Contemporary art work by regional artists highlights current events and responds to the question: What does the right to vote mean to me?
All events are free, bilingual and appropriate for students as well as adults. Contributions to Pajaro Valley Arts free bilingual programs are always welcome. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
For interviews and information about the exhibit and educational programs:
Maria Gitin firstname.lastname@example.org
www.pvaarts.org or call the gallery: 831.722.3062
June 7th in Montgomery
June 6th in Selma
Since the publication of “This Bright Light of Ours” in 2014, Maria Gitin has offered more than 35 presentations at universities, bookstores, museums, churches and temples, community centers, and nonprofit organizations. Her presentations include first hand testimony and photos from grassroots veterans of the 1965 civil rights movement. Her talks are energized with civil rights songs, questions and discussions and by the introduction of other civil rights veterans and their families. She is excited to return to Alabama for these two public presentations and to attend the Crawford family reunion.
Tuesday June 7 noon-1:15 PM This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the 1965 Voting Rights Fight in Wilcox County, Alabama
Book Talk with music, archival slides and stories Free and open to all.
Alabama Department of Archives & History
Milo B. Howard Auditorium
Montgomery, AL 36130
Monday June 6 th 2-3:00 PM
The National Park Service, Selma Interpretive Center sponsors Maria Gitin at the Performing Arts Center
1000 Selma Ave., Selma, AL 36701 www.thisbrightlightofours.com
Just back from a whirlwind tour of Atlanta GA and Mobile AL where students, teachers and other civil rights veterans gave warm reception to me and “This Bright Light of Ours.” We engaged in lively dialog about the need to bring back national civil discourse and restore voting rights in states where they have been lost. I am honored to carry not only my own stories but those of dozens of African American grassroots heroes to encourage this conversation.
I was invited to be one of 20 Bay Area Civil Rights Veterans (we have an organization) to the SF Film Festival premiere of Oprah Winfrey’s new film, Selma, which opens Dec 25th. When I looked at my calendar and saw that the date was Nov 15th when I was already committed to be in Atlanta presenting at the Southern Historical Association conference, I almost had a fit! As the world turns, my trip to Atlanta was rich in dialog and memory. I hadn’t been back to Atlanta in the 49 yrs since our “civil rights book camp” – Orientation. One of the lasting images I had was of MLK speaking to me in our final friendship circle. Now his name and image are on dozens of buildings and national park sites.