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The second exhibition in Bread and Roses, in February 1979,
following on the heels of the exhibition on the Year of the Child for the
children, was Earl Dotter's southern textile workers. This was not the
first time Dotter had exhibited at the union, but this was a pretty
significant exhibition. It included many of his photographs taken in
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. particularly in the Stevens campaign and the
brown lung campaign. We made a decision as a result of the response
to the first exhibition -- the children's exhibition -- with the response
from the schools, in that case elementary schools, that we should try
to involve the high schools and colleges and other organizations in this
exhibition. We made that decision almost as the exhibition was being
prepared to open.
I again approached the UFT, and we also arranged a meeting through
friends of mine with the social studies chairman of the high schools.
The UFT agreed to put in a full page again on the exhibition, and with
a coupon asking people -- schools, classes -- to sign up for it. We on
our part arranged to get someone who was on the staff at the Cornell
labor school, a position that ended, to agree to draft a teaching guide
for high school students, and she would teach it. A friend of mine, Vic
Teich, who taught in the high schools in Queens, and his wife who
taught at Bryant, they had a colleague who was very interested in
helping -- a high school teacher -- and he offered to assist in devising
the curriculum guide for the event. The problem which was different
here was that the young kids, they remain with the same teacher all
day long. So it was relatively simple -- if there was an agreement -- to
take them to bring them in. But a high school class moved from period
to period to period, to different teachers, and it was a much more
complicated thing. Nevertheless we were successful in getting, I'd say,
maybe seventy to eighty -- that's what comes to my mind -- high
school classes. There were senior citizen groups, there were some
college groups who came.
But what happened at the event was interesting, in this sense. In
addition to the teacher and the teaching guide, I got first of all from
CBS Sixty Minutes, I asked them to give us the tape of the segment
they had done on brown lung. We had a video machine we would use.
Then I asked Murray Finley to send to the exhibition a different worker
from J.P. Stevens every two weeks, to change who would be in the
gallery and would participate in the discussion on what it was like to
work in a textile mill. This phase of it we planned in advance. Mimi
Conway was publishing her book Rise, Gonna Rise, which contained
about twenty-four pages of Dotter's photographs.
Woefully reproduced, I might add.
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