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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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Tim Z. Hernandez Tim Z. Hernandez

Award-Winning Author to Perform Remembrance at SDSU

Tim Z. Hernandez’s performance culminates seven years of research into a tragic 1948 plane crash that killed 28 Mexican citizens.
By Anna Waletzko

Award-winning author Tim Z. Hernandez will deliver a performance based on his research about folk artist Woody Guthrie’s song “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportees)” at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, in San Diego State University’s Smith Recital Hall. Admission to the event is free.

All They Will Call You: Finding Woody Guthrie’s Deportees” is a lively storytelling performance that focuses on the tragic story of 28 Mexican citizens who were killed in a plane crash at Los Gatos Canyon while being deported from Oakland, California on Jan. 28, 1948. Guthrie’s song was an attempt to restore the dignity of those passengers. At the time, mainstream media only mentioned the names of the American crew, omitting the names of the Mexican citizens. 

The performance sheds light on the lives of the victims and includes special guest performances by folk musician Joel Rafael and mariachi musician Raoul Hernandez.

Seven years of research

Hernandez spent seven years tracking down the family members of victims and conducting interviews, including the family of the four crew members who also perished. He described the research process as a personal journey wherein he “gave names to the nameless.” 

In one case Hernandez interviewed a woman in her mid-80s whose fiancé was killed in the crash. 

“You could see it in her eyes that she was a 20-year-old again,” said Hernandez. “The love was still palpable in her eyes.” 

About the author

Hernandez was a finalist for the inaugural Split This Rock Freedom Plow Award for his work on locating the victims of the 1948 plane wreck. His research resulted in a book, “All They Will Call You,” and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and National Public Radio. 

“All They Will Call You: Finding Woody Guthrie’s Deportees” is organized by SDSU Downtown Gallery Director Chantel Paul in conjunction with the gallery’s current exhibition, “We Are Here/Estamos Aquí.”