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New photo book reflects changing South Florida in the 1970s, '80s

The black and white images capture South Florida in the midst of change.

Photos of a Ku Klux Klan cross-burning in Davie in 1979. Jubilant scenes of the gay pride parade in downtown Miami that same year. Bikers bantering during a Motorhead rock concert at the former Bobby Maduro Stadium in 1981. People raising their hands in praise during a “Miami for Jesus” rally at the former Orange Bowl.

The street scenes were captured by Miami Lakes photographer Charles Hashim, who enjoyed attending weekend events from Key Largo to Davie with his Nikon 28 mm camera.

Fifty-one of those images have been published in the new book, “We Are Everywhere and We Shall be Free: Charles Hashim’s Miami 1977-1983” ($29.95, Letter16 Press).

Stonewall National Archives and Library will present Hashim and his photographs at 7 p.m. April 20 at the nonprofit’s gallery in Wilton Manors. The event includes a slide show and a discussion of his work.

“I just went around the streets taking pictures, point and shoot,’’ recalled Hashim, 78, of his immersive approach. “Sometimes, I would say ‘camera coming through.’ They couldn’t understand what I was doing. I photographed people who were so caught up in what they were doing that I was almost invisible.”

The 72-page book, published by Letter16 Press with a grant from the Knight Foundation, chronicles how Miami in particular was morphing from a sleepy Southern town into what it is today.

“One of the really incredible things about these photos is how they bring a particularly notorious period of Miami history to vivid life and they also help flesh out that history in ways that are often overlooked,’’ said Brett Sokol, co-founder and editor of Letter16 Press, a nonprofit publisher in Miami. “A lot of people who were under the thumb of society were suddenly, as in the case of the gay community, literally coming out of the closet. That’s what you see in these photos, people taking to the streets in ways that had been unimaginable in years prior.”

Hashim’s photographs also highlighted the punk rock scene, illegal drag races in Opa-locka and drag queens making their mark in Miami.

The cover of the book is a photograph of a man with a chapeau holding up a drag queen at the former Bicentennial Park in 1979. Behind them, a spectator with a sign that read “We Are Everywhere and We Shall Be Free.” That was a reaction to Anita Bryant’s anti-gay rights campaign in Dade County.

Hashim said of his photographs, “I tried to sum up the feeling of the situation, of what was going on.’’

Hashim took the photographs on the weekends when he wasn’t working at Miami Dade Community College, where he taught photography and served as a department chairperson at the north campus. He retired in 2003.

He still hasn’t hung up his camera though. Hashim enjoys roaming South Florida and taking pictures, now with a digital Nikon.

”I still look for events, something that is going on,’’ he said. “Now I go out during the week because I’m retired.”

Charles Hashim will present his book 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 20 at the Stonewall National Museum — Wilton Manors Gallery, 2157 Wilton Drive. Admission is free, but there's a suggested $5 donation. Call 954-763-8565 or go to Stonewall-Museum.org.

Hashim also will sign copies from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22 at the Miami Zine Fair at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables. The event is free. Visit omiami.org/events.

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