It was July 1975 in the sun-drenched Salinas Valley. Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW) had ten days and 1,000 miles on foot to raise awareness throughout farm worker communities that for the first time they would be able to petition for state-sponsored elections and cast secret ballots for the union of their choice. The marchers were at the beginning of their journey with eight more cities and eight days left. They stopped to rest at Camp Roberts, an Army base right off of Highway 101, where Chavez took this moment of weariness to give a speech about the importance of the new state law Governor Jerry Brown giving farmworkers the right to protected union activity and state-sponsored elections.
In 2015, California Humanities was pleased to provide a grant to develop a web-based art and history exhibit called “Democracy in the Fields” that explores the stories of farm workers who supported Cesar Chavez in his July 1975 march from the U.S.A.- Mexico border and through the Salinas Valley. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of the biography “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” Miriam Pawel, met photographer Mimi Plumb, who had spent the summer of 1975 following Cesar Chavez and his supporters with a 35mm camera. “Democracy in the Fields”, curated by Pawel, is an attempt to preserve a piece of rapidly disappearing history found in Plumb’s photographs and the stories she and Miriam Pawel unearthed. The website, which launched in spring 2016, is designed to expand as people identify friends and relatives in the photographs and add their own recollections of that summer.
The leaders and the activists of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers movement weren’t groomed orators or politicians – they were regular people, with families and personal responsibilities, whose struggle to find opportunities to raise their voice and control their destinies became their new job in and around the field.
Join us on Thursday, March 29th for a very special closing reception for “Pictures from the Field”, where we will honor Cesar Chavez and the known and unknown labor movement activists. The evening will include remarks from the photographer Mimi Plumb and a panel conversation with filmmaker Laurie Coyle – the director of the recently released Adios Amor, a documentary film about the search for Maria Moreno, a tenacious heroine of California’s migrant farm workers – and Albertina Zarazúa Padilla, born to a farm worker family in Monterey and now a curator and workshop facilitator for MiHistoria’s Story Archive.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP for the opening reception at the California Humanities office in Oakland.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
free and open to the public
538 9th Street, Suite 210, Oakland, CA
Second Floor of Swan’s Market
(Accessible by food market elevator near fish monger or courtyard stairs adjacent to Super Juiced)
5:30 – 7:30 PM Exhibit open for viewing & refreshments at California Humanities
6:00 PM Remarks from featured artist Mimi Plumb and
a conversation with Laurie Coyle (filmmaker, Adios Amor) and Albertina Zarazúa Padilla (curator and workshop facilitator for MiHistoria’s Story Archive)