A former Los Angeles Times and Santa Monica Outlook photographer was one of many exhibitors who showcased their crafts at the Church in Ocean Park July 2 in an effort to combat malaria.
William Beebe, recognized for his iconic photograph of President John F. Kennedy after a swim at Santa Monica Beach a year before he was assassinated, displayed a variety of photographs that he has taken over a 42-year career at an event that was designed to raise funds for Against Malaria, an organization dedicated to eradicating a disease that causes an estimated three million deaths a year.
The Rev. Janet McKeithen, who heads the Church in Ocean Park, believes the church’s affiliation with Against Malaria is not only a continuation of its long history backing social justice causes but also “a new spark” for its members and supporters.
“We’ve done a lot of local actions in the past, but in recent years we’ve been branching out to more global causes,” she said the day before the exhibit.
Against Malaria was created in 2004 and has become the world’s largest malaria advocacy group in terms of participants, a group spokesperson said. Regie Miller, who helped coordinate the charity event at the church, echoed McKeithen’s sentiments on looking towards charities on a larger scale.
“We wanted to do something more international,” Miller said.
Malaria is an infectious disease prevalent in countries with high amounts of rainfall and consistently high temperatures, including much of Africa and Asia. It is spread via mosquitos and the affliction can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites and distribution of mosquito nets and insect repellents.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2010 World Malaria Report, each year there are more than 225 million cases of malaria and 781,000 people died from the disease last year.
The proceeds from the exhibit will go to purchase nets in the tropical continents where the disease is still common.
Beebe, who lives in Mar Vista, displayed photos of images taken of birds in the Ballona Wetlands and throughout Santa Monica as well as of animals, which he took in various countries, including some in Africa.
The Aug. 19, 1962 photograph of the late president emerging from the ocean is by far his most famous. “I knew at the time that I took it that it would be unique,” the photographer told The Argonaut.
Beebe acknowledged that it was true that Kennedy’s trusted advisor Pierre Salinger called the Times later that day to ask that the photo not appear in the newspaper. “He didn’t get anywhere with that,” Beebe, who also worked for the old Santa Monica Pacific Press, recalled.
McKeithen, who has taken controversial stands over the years such as marrying gay and lesbian couples in her church in 2008, said the cost of the mosquito nets is only $5.
“So it seems like if we were to raise even $1,000, that’s a lot of nets and a lot of people’s lives that we can save,” she said.
Local artists also displayed their work.
Beebe plans to compile a book of over 100 images of wetland birds in the near future.