This Bright Light of Ours for first time in Watsonville April 25th as part of Vote! Exhibit and Celebration


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  or call the gallery: 831.722.3062

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Celebrate Women in Politics – Register to Vote Today!

Thank you Karina Cervantez, for stepping up to run for Watsonville City Council and for your kind inclusion of me in your “Celebrating Women in Politics” campaign kick-off Aug 18th. Daughter of farmworkers, an outstanding student from an early age, Karina is completing her Ph.D in social psychology at UC Santa Cruz. She serves on the Watsonville Planning Commission, is lecturer at California State University Monterey Bay, is a great mentor to many young women and a wonderful friend! More on Karina

Before the November 2012 elections, we must get everyone to register to vote and then out to vote. Remember if you have moved, changed your name or not voted for two elections, you need to re-register. Don’t let regressive scare tactics and repressive voter ID laws keep you from registering and helping to register others. Contact your local Democratic Party, NAACP Branch, union office or go to to volunteer to register voters at county fairs, shopping centers, and even learn how to canvassing for voters door to door as we did back in Freedom Summer of 1965. These are just a few of the women risked their lives so amazing women like Karina Cervantez can run for office, and so all of us can vote.

Ethel Brooks, SCLC trained community activist, trained and carried youth to marches and demonstrations in Wilcox County Alabama 1965-67. She and I were chased off the road by the KKK while working on voter registration in the Freedom Summer of 1965. More about Ethel

Shelly Dallas Dale was just 16 years old when she was taken to the county prison farm along with hundreds of other Wilcox County youth who were protesting segregated, sub-standard schools and fighting for their parents right to vote. Since 2001 Ms. Dale has served the county’s first female Tax Assessor.

Rosetta Anderson participated in boycotts against stores that refused to hire African Americans, coordinated protests and has worked tirelessly on Get Out the Vote campaigns from the 1960’s to the present. 

When I was a teenage civil rights worker in 1965 they said we couldn’t make a difference, but thousands of African Americans and their white allies forced Congress and the Presidnt to sign the Voting Rights Act thereby assuring their right to vote. If you want to combat the conservative attack on collective community values such as decent, affordable healthcare, living wage jobs, equal education, quality infrastructure and a safe, healthful environment – join your regional voter registration and get out the vote team today! – Maria Gitin, SNCC-SCLC 1965 voter registration worker in Wilcox County, Alabama. Current community activist and author of This Bright Light of Ours: Stories of the Wilcox County Freedom Fight.  Publication news forthcoming.