Charles Hashim grew up in a Miami that was still a sleepy Southern town. Born here in 1938, he remembers it as a close-minded place with segregated schools and beaches.
But by the late '60s, things were starting to change. After Cuban refugees began arriving, Hashim noticed old prejudices seemed to be breaking down. New subcultures came to life. Miami began evolving into an international city.
And Hashim, who spent nearly 40 years as program director for Miami Dade College's photography department, was there to capture it all on camera.
"You had the idea of, this is what it was; this is the way it always has been, and this is the way it's always going to be," he recalls. Instead, "so much changed."
This month saw the release of a new hardcover book of Hashim's photographs from those days — all carefully transferred from his original 35mm negatives. Called We Are Everywhere and We Shall Be Free: Charles Hashim's Miami 1977-1983, it debuts tonight with an event at Books & Books in Coral Gables.
The book was published by Letter16 Press, a nonprofit run by journalist and former New Times staffer Brett Sokol and photographer and designer Francesco Casale. Backed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the organization is dedicated to preserving Miami photographers' work from the pre-digital era.
Letter16's first book featured work from 1961 to 1966 by the late Al Kaplan, who attended high school in Miami. We Are Everywhere and We Shall Be Free is the second, featuring lively shots from gay pride parades, rock concerts, Calle Ocho and campus protests.
"What emerges from Hashim’s photographs is a portrait of a city coming apart at the seams, with the old social order crumbling and everything up for grabs," Sokol wrote in the book's introduction.
Hashim was 12 when his parents gave him his first camera, "and I became fascinated with it," he remembers. "It was a mirror with a memory." He became editor of the annual at his school, then went to the University of Miami for undergraduate school and the University of California, Los Angeles, for graduate school.
After graduating from UCLA, Hashim returned to Miami. "I always considered Miami my home," he says. He started teaching at Miami Dade College in 1964 and would remain there until 2003, occasionally doing one-man shows at local galleries.
He found his subject matter by flipping through the Miami Herald and other local papers. He shot a 1978 Ku Klux Klan cross burning, capturing an image of a woman holding her baby out to a uniformed Klansman.
"People were in denial, saying these things don't happen here," Hashim recalls. "Well, yes they do. Here is a woman passing over her baby who's going to be taught to hate. This is not a good thing, but it's happening here."
He shot a 1979 gay pride parade in which 2,000 people marched. It was at that event that he captured the photograph that would appear on the cover of his book: A man carrying a drag queen in a dress and crown. In the background was a sign that read, "We are everywhere and we shall be free."
"I believe in that," says Hashim, who is still shooting today. "I believe everybody should be free — gay, straight, black, white, Latino, what have you. And Miami has moved in that direction, and I think that's all positive and good from where we began."
Charles Hashim is speaking at 7 p.m. tonight at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Speaking alongside him will be fellow Miami artists Adler Guerrier and Shirley Drevich.
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