From Farmworkers to Advocates

 

The farmworker movement of the 1960s led by the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez, inspired a traveling group of singers known as “el teatro campesino” that would travel to different fields in the Central Valley to sing to farmworkers: as they worked or as they led picket lines. One of their many songs is as following:

 

Niños Campesinos
By Luís Valdez; Teatro Campesino

Como a la una, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco,
seis de la mañana
El sol calienta ranchos anchos y de
luz todos los baña Y a eso campos
van los niños campesinos
Sin un destino, sin un destino
Son peregrinos de verdad

Listen to the entire song

Today the farmworker movement continues to inspire the immigrant activists of the Central Valley, many of whom in Tulare County, were once farmworkers themselves or the children of farmworkers. Furthermore, I believe el teatro campesino played a significant role in the movement with their music. Their songs including “no nos moveran” and “yo no le tengo miedo a nada”, give me a sense of invisibility; and one can only image what it inspired in the farmworkers of the 1960s who were experiencing disturbing labor and human rights violations.

Moving forward, I believe music will play an important role in the efforts being made by and on behalf of the immigrant community in Tulare County. At the same time, it find it quite romantic that many of the leading voices of farmworker immigrants today in Tulare County and the Central Valley as a whole, happen to be former child farmworkers or the children of farmworkers. As a former child farmworker and now farmworker for the past seventeen years, la cancion “los ninos campesinos” vibrates deeply in my heart and moves me to tears sporadically, no matter how many times I listen to it.

My fellowship with the American Friends Service Committee has given me the resources needed to help advocate for the immigrant community full-time in Tulare County. From legislative efforts, to know your rights presentations, to leadership development, and most surprisingly to me; I had the chance to help disseminate the farmworker narrative to international media when South Korean journalists came to my hometown.

I believe that political power will shift significantly in favor of the immigrant community within the next decade in Tulare County. The children of farmworkers are gradually increasing their socio-political and economic influence. Children of immigrants already make up a significant majority of the voting population in Tulare County. It is so real to me, I feel I can already grasp it.

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