San Francisco and the Bay Area has been a vital center for many social justice, counterculture and progressive movements. The exhibition “We’ve Been Here,” showcases how so many of the events that have impacted the Bay Area have been driven by people of color.
The exhibit was curated by Associated Students, Inc. and focuses on marginalized and underrepresented communities in the Bay Area, utilizing documentation to convey their stories.
Ann Marie Sayers was one of the first guest speakers at the show’s opening reception last month. In a spirited demeanor she told attendees to take a careful look at all the photographs.
“This is an amazing gallery that was put together,” Sayers said. “Every photographer who had their work displayed here is amazing. Every picture says something to you. This one right here, number 17 – I literally can feel the tear come down my eye just looking at that picture.”
The photograph Sayers pointed out was of a Black woman named Angela Naggie who was the mother of O’Shaine Evans, an unarmed 26-year-old man who was shot by a San Francisco police officer. In the photograph, Naggie has a teardrop in her eye and looks dazed. The photograph was one of a series taken by Joel Angel Suarez, a current student of SF State’s Journalism Department.
“This country has to see every lens, not just straight white; every lens has to be shared,” Sayers said. “And let me tell you, I’m seeing my dream come true because as an Ohlone woman I really feel as though I’m invisible, as though my perspective doesn’t count.”
Donations the exhibit receives from attendees will go to a special cause and will be donated to Standing Rock, Gallery Assistant Anh Bu said.
Ilka Hartmann was another photojournalist present at the gallery whose work was displayed in the exhibit. Throughout her graduate studies in the ‘60s, Hartmann became dedicated to some of the social justice movements that took place in the Bay Area. Through photography, she documented the Black Panther Party and the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz among others.
“We’re really trying to focus on how people have agency and how people of color are resilient and have very empowering stories to tell,” Assistant Director Renae Moua said.
“We’ve Been Here” is on display in the Cesar Chavez Student Center through Jan. 26.