When writer and veteran union organizer David Bacon speaks of “people who travel with the crops,” he means the agricultural workers who move from place to place to cultivate and harvest California’s fields. They are also the subject of his newest work of photojournalism.
The time for Diane Rodriguez’s play is 1970, and the immediate setting is the office of El Malcriado, the newspaper founded by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez in Delano, California.
When Cesar Chavez led a band of farm workers on their historic 300-mile march from Delano to Sacramento half a century ago, they prominently displayed banners of the Virgin de Guadalupe throughout the line. Why? Because that image held symbolic weight far beyond any other the group could carry.
Sometimes the most interesting, and influential, figures in history are anything but household names. A case in point is Fred Ross, one of the greatest organizers of the 20th century.
The police stop a young man. An officer shoots, killing him. The officer claims self-defense, that the killing was warranted.
The community, having endured years of unequal treatment at the hands of law enforcement and other municipal agencies, responds in anger. Protests ensue. Hard feelings persist, as do demands for law-enforcement accountability.
Sound familiar? No, this is not the case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The young man in question was Augustin Salcido, 17, and the incident occurred in Los Angeles more than six decades earlier. The Internet did not exist at that time and local television audiences were miniscule, so the Civil Rights Congress of Los Angeles produced a pamphlet, Justice for Salcido. In its introduction, author and civil rights advocate Carey McWilliams described the killing as part of a historical pattern of “continued suppression of the Mexican minority.”