Iconic Images Fill Howard Harawitz Portfolio

Now living in Alameda, Howard Harawitz made his name photographing protests during the Free Speech Movement, farm workers organizing, and moments of police brutality.


With faithful Leica in hand, photographer Howard Harawitz documented important moments in history.

Photo courtesy of Howard Harawitz

On May 20, 1969, Gov. Ronald Reagan ordered helicopters to drop tear gas on student protesters at UC Berkeley. The wind carried the gas into the Berkeley hills, sending children to the hospital and drawing their parents into the streets in response. Howard Harawitz, then a graduate student of history, snapped a surreal and jarring photo of a shirtless child, his face obscured by a gas mask, holding a wilted daisy before the American flag at the resulting demonstration, just one of hundreds of iconic images in his portfolio of protests in the 1960s.

Fortunately, Harawitz always had his trusty Leica with him, although he generally tried to avoid being beaten up by police or having his camera get wrecked, he said. He was on hand at the birth of the Free Speech Movement when his friend, activist Jack Weinberg, was arrested on campus, prompting students to surround the police car to prevent his removal. Harawitz also traveled throughout the state for the California Department of Public Health, and photographed César Chávez as farm workers first organized in Delano. And working with welfare rights groups, he went into homes in Oakland to photograph deplorable housing conditions.

Harawitz moved to Nova Scotia where he taught computer science and founded the company that produced the first commercially available software program for editing web pages. He moved back to the East Bay five years ago and resides in Alameda with his wife, Cheryl, a painter. Now 78 years old, he still takes photos, perhaps of a global warming demonstration in Oakland, or “street photography” in San Francisco.

His photos hang in the Free Speech Movement Café on the UC Berkeley campus, and he recently had a solo show at Alameda Island Brewing Company on Park Street, images of antiwar demonstrations; picketing against police brutality or for fair employment; portraits of Terence Hallinan decades before he became a district attorney; Free Speech Movement spokesman Mario Savio; as well as countless individuals whose names history may not have recorded, but, thanks to Harawitz, their deeds will not be forgotten.

More work can be seen at Harawitz.com; email him at Harawitz@gmail.com.

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