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Farm Workers

Each of the following portfolios contain images of a related subject. Browse the thumbnail page, then click to see an enlarged image, caption, and licensing information.

Cesar Chavez  "All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation, which treats farmworkers as if they were not important human beings. Farmworkers are not agricultural implements. They are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded."  more…

Early Organizing: AWOC  The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) was created in 1959 to organize field workers. It was financed by the AFL/CIO, which soon grew discouraged by the difficulty of the job. Not until Filipino workers struck in 1965 and drew in Cesar Chavez' fledgling UFW did organizing efforts begin to succeed.  more…

Union Organizing:UFW  In April, 1962, Cesar Chavez moved to Delano and began organizing Mexican and Chicano field workers. Starting slowly and with virtually no money, he foresaw years of work before his movement was strong enough to confront the growers. Unlike the unions, Chavez understood the culture and psychology of field workers, whom he enlisted with a powerful mix of non-violence, Mexican nationalism, religion and Latino culture.  more…

The First Grape Strike  By the summer of 1965 strike fever was sweeping the California Central Valley. Filipino AWOC members left the grape harvest to protest a lower pay scale than growers were paying imported Mexican labor. With only $70 in his treasury, Chavez made the fateful decision to join the Filipinos' strike. It was the beginning of a struggle that continues to this day.  more…

Sacramento March  The longest protest march (300 miles) in US history, the United Farm workers organized it as a pilgrimage and preparation for the long struggle ahead. Beginning in Delano with a few hundred marchers, they arrived in Sacramento on Easter Sunday a month later, 25,000 strong.  more…

Cesar's Fast  Cesar Chavez fasted from February 15, 1968 until March 10 -- longer than Gandhi's famous fast, and it galvanized the UFW, bringing new energy and solidarity where spirits had been flagging.  more…

Ernest Lowe: Master Portfolio  It is no coincidence that Lowe's pictures evoke the classic images of Farm Security Administration photographers such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. Lowe studied with John Collier Jr, a noted social documentarian, and when he showed his photographs to Lange, she declared: "This is my family album," and loaned him a camera and money to carry on his work. For more information about the portfolio, click the title line on the portfolio page. (Each Master Portfolio is a collection of the photographer's very best images. Many can also be found in other sections of the site, organized by subject matter.)  more…
Under Construction

Portfolios Under Construction We are adding farm worker pictures as quickly as we can scan and caption them. Please check this page for future portfolios, which will include: The Grape Boycott; The Lettuce Strike; Other Marches; Funerals; Migrant Living Conditions; Women; Religion; Chicano Culture; Chicano Activism; UFW Supporters; UFW Staff; El Teatro Campesino; Growers and Agribusiness; The Mechanization of Agriculture.