The Black and White Photographs of Harvey Wilson Richards

CRITICAL FOCUS  Second Edition is now available from Amazon as a print on demand book. The second edition cover is new, featuring the iconic photo of Dolores Huerta taken September 24, 1965.

The subjects Harvey Richards photographed in the 1960’s remain topical and vital. The movements for peace and justice face the same obstacles we faced 50 years ago. Concentrated wealth and privilege have escalated and with it, the problems faced by the people fighting for survival and freedom. The 2019 second edition of CRITICAL FOCUS arises from the same causes as motivated the first edition in 1986:

Knowing our history is the first step towards changing our reality.

The 1960’s civil rights movement forced the abolition of legal segregation but defacto segregation in US cities has never been worse. The peace movement helped cut short the slaughter in Vietnam but the forces of war have continued unabated globally, in Central America in the 1980’s and continuing on in Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Venezuela, Honduras and, spreading like the plague, with US military bases all over the continent of Africa. Global nuclear power confrontations still haunt the world as the US reinvents its old enemies in post-Soviet Russia, China, India, and as nuclear weapons spread to other nations.
The environmental movement has advanced in popularity at the same time that climate change, deforestation, species extinction, water and air pollution continue to worsen. Organic farming advances while Monsanto’s genetically modified organism sneak poisons into our industrial food systems worldwide. Farm worker’s causes have advanced in face the same harsh conditions in California agriculture they suffered five decades ago as unions have retreated nationwide. On top of all of this, our educational system has eroded, funding has been cut, and the history of past struggles disappeared from view like leaflets thrown into a fast moving river.

When CRITICAL FOCUS was first published in 1986, I had just received the boxes of photos and films that make up the Harvey Richards Media Archive. The images in the 1986 first print edition emerged from the prints that Harvey had developed in his darkroom to use supporting the struggles taking place in the 1960’s. Now, these original images are part of the larger collection of images and films that have been digitized and made available on the Harvey Richards Media Archive web site. CRITICAL FOCUS Second Edition includes Endnotes with links to the larger collection of still images and a list of all 22 available films. These new features are also available in the eBook edition of Critical Focus published in 2012.

Over the last 35 years, Harvey Richards’ films and photos have appeared in many documentaries, feature films, on TV, in national monuments, museums and in magazines and books. His films receive growing interest from the public viewing them in libraries around the world through the Kanopy media service  and are available for rental and downloading through Prime Video Direct on in the US and globally through Platform Purple. Preview clips from all his films can be seen on Paul Richards’ YouTube channel.

The 1960s are known today for the cultural explosions and political upheavals that ended the stifling silence of the 1950’s. Harvey Richards’ photography offers a bottoms up view of the legacy of radicalism and protest that underlies that era’s reputation. Because of the conservative reaction that followed those struggles, the forty years of Republican rule, the collapse educational funding and the free press, many people today have little understanding of what actually happened. This book offers a glimpse into one part of a legacy that is now being reborn. It is a legacy that younger people today and generations of the future will want to understand. And there is no better way to see it than through the eye of a photographer who shared its values.

Paul Richards
Vallejo, California
July, 2019

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