Campbellsville University’s John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president of CU, right, interviews José Galvez, Mexican-American Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, for his “Dialogue on Public Issues” show. The show will air Sunday, Dec. 22 at 8 a.m.; Monday, Dec. 23 at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.; and Wednesday, Dec. 25 at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The show is aired on Campbellsville’s cable channel 10 and is also aired on WLCU FM 88.7 at 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. (Campbellsville University Photo by Drew Tucker)
|Jose Galvez speaks at the Ransdell Chapel on Campbellsville University’s campus. (Campbellsville University Photo by Rachel DeCoursey)|
By Ellie McKinley, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — A shoe shining box changed his life.
To showcase the talents of a Pulitzer Prize award-winning Mexican-American photojournalist, as well as highlight Latino culture, Campbellsville University hosted José Galvez recently.
Galvez worked at the Los Angeles Times, becoming the first Mexican-American photographer on staff. In 1984, he and his Chicano colleagues on the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latino life in southern California.
Galvez spoke in classes and to the entire campus about “Latino Life in the U.S.” Galvez was on campus speaking at a workshop with an Appalachian College Association grant received from Dr. Twyla Hernandez, assistant professor of Christian missions, on Latino life.
Galvez has worked for 40 years showing the historical Latino experience in America through black and white photography.
Throughout his childhood, he lived the life of a typical Mexican boy. However, he had the drive to do more; he had the desire to shine.
When he was working as a shoeshine boy and newspaper delivery boy, he was invited by a reporter to go inside the newsroom. While he was inside, he was asked to shine the shoes of the first Latino news reporters. Galvez said, “After seeing that room, I knew this was going to be my future. I wanted to be a part of making the paper, not only selling it.”
By continuing to meet with different reporters, he was able to gain experience and learn more about photography. After buying a camera from a pawn shop, he found his true passion in life. It was an exciting time for him to photograph athletes and celebrities, but his favorite part was photographing his people and the Chicano culture.
When he was in high school, he told his guidance counselor he wanted to be a journalist. The guidance counselor told him that he was not cut out for college.
Even though people told him it was not possible or realistic, Galvez was the first graduate of high school and college from his family.
By going to college during the Chicano movement, he found his true identity, “I knew I was Mexican,” Galvez said. The type of pictures he was taking was a vision of what life was like for Latinos and he had the desire for people to learn from them.
After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles to work with the Los Angeles Times. It was a difficult time because being the first Mexican-American on staff brought several challenges. Many reporters did not want his works published. However, in 1984, he and his team won a Pulitzer Prize for their photography series on Latino life.
Today he continues to share his photographs with college students and several exhibits around the United States. He wants to show his photographs with love and respect.
Galvez said, “I want to take the word to non-Latino audiences and show them that we are all similar and move them toward understanding in ways that words can’t. Hopefully habits will be changed and we will have unity and compassion. We need to get to know people.
“For Latino audiences, I want them to feel empowered that they are studying in a college and have the opportunity that many do not have. This is a time to ‘find your calling’ and use it to help others. Above all else, shine.”
Galvez had a photo exhibit in Winters Dining Hall. Many students from mass communications, social work and Spanish classes attended his sessions.
Galvez shared predicted statistics of what life will be like in the United States in years to come and the Latino impact.
|Jose Galvez speaks in the Ransdell Chapel. (Campbellsville University Photo by Rachel DeCoursey)|
Andrew Simmons, a senior majoring in Spanish, said, “I’ve heard stuff on Latino culture before, but it’s always felt like people were making it a social issue. I felt like José Galvez presented it as exactly what is a Latino culture, which made me feel connected to it like I never have before when it’s been presented as a social issue.”
Many students asked Galvez why he used black and white photography. He said he uses black and white photography because it allows people to get inside the image and think without being influenced by color. Rather than using digital, he uses film because it gives him the chance to slow down and observe the content.
Galvez said, “By taking fewer images, it is more meaningful. Study and make it powerful. My photos are not photographs of immigration, but of real people who have families, students, religion and faith, which shows that we are more similar than dissimilar.”
To demonstrate their desire to increase the Latino experience in America, Campbellsville University has started a new program called “Find your Familia at CU.” CU has also hosted a Hispanic Preview Day for families to tour campus.
Johana Perez, assistant professor of Spanish professor, said, “CU has done a great job of incorporating Latino international students to life on campus, but CU is now starting to grasp the idea of giving access to Latino United States based students. Galvez’s talk was the beginning of a new campaign. The first Hispanic family day on campus was the second. CU has embraced this new idea and is learning the difference between international Latinos and home-based U.S. American Latinos. I am happy to participate in the new initiative and hopefully we can get more students involved in the new effort bringing this new culture to CU.”
Even though Galvez had the opportunity to give up on his dreams, Galvez showed determination. “No one is going to give it to you. You have to want it and you have to go after it.”
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.