Every night when he was a boy, José M. Hernández would look out the window and stare at the stars. They were different colors: blue, yellow and white. Some were larger and brighter than others, and some twinkled as if they were alive. Later, when he saw man land on the moon on TV, he knew he wanted to be an astronaut.
Interviews with nine children of Hispanic migrant farm workers reveal some of their struggles, such as the long hours in the fields and the language barriers at school, and their aspirations for a better life.
Tomás is a son of migrant workers. Every summer he and his family follow the crops north from Texas to Iowa, spending long, arduous days in the fields. At night they gather around to hear Grandfather’s wonderful stories. But before long, Tomás knows all the stories by heart. “There are more stories in the library,” Papa Grande tells him. The very next day, Tomás meets the library lady and a whole new world opens up for him. Based on the true story of the Mexican-American author and educator Tomás Rivera, a child of migrant workers who went on to become the first minority Chancellor in the University of California system, this inspirational story suggests what libraries–and education–can make possible. Raul Colón’s warm, expressive paintings perfectly interweave the harsh realities of Tomás’s life, the joyful imaginings he finds in books, and his special relationships with a wise grandfather and a caring librarian.
The images in this book highlight the lives of the men and women who struggle to exist while literally feeding this country. Countless words and studies over decades bemoan the plight of those who toil in the fields, but Rick Nahmias’s pictures bring farm workers to us in an unforgettable way, taking us beyond stoop labor stills and into their intimate moments and inner lives. Having traveled over four thousand miles to document California’s migrant workforce, Nahmias’s soulful images and incisive text go beyond one state’s issues, illuminating the bigger story about the human cost of feeding America. The Migrant Project includes the images and text of the traveling exhibition of the same name, along with numerous outtakes and an in-depth preface by Nahmias. Accompanied by a Foreword from United Farm Worker co-creator Dolores Huerta, essays by top farm worker advocates, and oral histories from farm workers themselves, this volume should find itself at home in the hands of everyone from the student and teacher, to the activist, the photography enthusiast, and the consumer.”Every day in the hot fields of California, hundreds of thousands of farmworkers toil for long hours at low pay to provide fruit and vegetables to feed our nation. Most Americans never see the faces of these hard-working men and women, and know little or nothing about the harsh conditions they endure. The Migrant Project has done an extraordinary job documenting these workers’ lives. Rick Nahmias’s powerful photographs and the beautiful essays of dedicated advocates tell an inspiring story of the farmworkers’ historic struggle for the respect, the dignity, and the justice they so obviously deserve.”–U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts “Nahmias’s images starkly capture both the humanity of the farm workers who literally feed our country, and the inhumanity of a system which has kept them and their predecessors prisoners to poverty for decades. This book is a testament to the flesh-and-blood cost of feeding America.”–Arianna Huffington, author, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, and nationally syndicated columnistExhibition schedule for The Migrant Project photographs:Mexican Cultural Institute, Washington D.C., February 21-April 14, 2008Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, California, March 4-April 25, 2008For more information on immigrant and migrant worker issues, please access the following organizations:Farmworker JusticeCalifornia Rural Legal AssistanceNational Association of State Directors of Migrant EducationNational Council for La RazaInternational Relations Center Americas ProgramCongressional Hispanic Caucus InstituteGlobal Commission on International MigrationInstitute for Agriculture and Trade PolicyNational Farmworker MinistryNational Rural Funders CollaborativeNational Farm Worker AllianceSouthern Poverty Law CenterUMOS Clergy and Laity United for Economic JusticeAmerican Friends Service CommitteeAFL-CIOCoalition for Comprehensive Immigration ReformCatholic Campaign for Immigration Reform
A teenager discovers racism and romance on his father’s farm. For his fourteenth birthday, Joe Pedersen wants a motorbike that costs nearly a thousand dollars. But his mom says the usual birthday gift is fifty dollars, and his dad wants Joe to earn the rest of the money himself and “find out what a real day’s work feels like.” Angry that his father doesn’t think he’s up to the job, Joe joins the Mexican laborers who come to his father’s farm each summer. Manuel, the crew boss, is only sixteen, yet highly regarded by the other workers and the Pedersen family. Joe’s resentment grows when his father treats Manuel as an equal. Compared with Manuel, Joe knows nothing about planting and hoeing cabbage and picking strawberries. But he toughs out the long, grueling days in the hot sun, determined not only to make money but to gain the respect of his stern, hardworking father. Joe soon learns about the problems and fears the Mexicans live with every day, and, before long, thanks to Manuel, his beautiful cousin Luisa, and the rest of the crew, Joe comes to see the world in a whole different way.In her sensitive new novel, Cynthia DeFelice explores our dependency on migrant workers and simultaneous reluctance to let these people into our country and into our lives.