FLORENCE — At Francis Marion University on Thursday, as part of Hispanic Heritage Month students, faculty and staff learned firsthand from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jose Galvez how powerful a photograph can be.
All in attendance at the Ashpy P. Lowrimore Auditorium heard Galvez’s story and learned about his life growing up as a Mexican-American from the barrios of Tucson, Ariz.
Galvez has spent the last 40 years of his life documenting and creating an unprecedented historical record of the Latino experience in America through his photographs.
While traveling the country, Galvez said, he hopes to inspire people to be successful and gain an understanding of the Hispanic culture.
“I hope they get empathy that as they (students) walk, drive or vacation around that they see the Hispanics and Latinos in their communities and have a deeper appreciation of who they are as individuals and what they do,” he said.
Francis Marion University student Eleni Gotter said she’s glad she came to hear Galvez speak and see his photography.
“I think it was pretty amazing that he got to share his culture, heritage and his background with us and how he started off as a shoeshine boy and became what he is today,” Gotter said.
Dorothy Matthews, a senior Spanish major, said that Galvez’s presentation was relevant to everyone, but especially college students.
“He was talking about shining as a person in our own place and serving others and sharing a good work ethic,” she said. “A lot of us are here to get degrees, to get jobs one day and we should be passionate about what we’re doing.”
After graduating from the University of Arizona he became the first Mexican-American photographer on the staff of the Los Angeles Times newspaper.
In 1984 he was a part of a team of reporters and photographers that won a Pulitzer Prize for a series of stories on Latino life — the first of a team of Hispanics to win the award.
Since then, Galvez has toured the country showing his photographs through presentations, galleries and schools in the United States and abroad.
“Even though sometimes we have adversity and obstacles we can overcome them,” Galvez said. “All it takes is a motivation and desire. I hope that they (students) come away with a feeling of that I’m doing good and doing good for my community and doing a good job for society.”