We have won before and we can win again, when we unite across differences to fight for what all Valley families need to thrive.
March is Women’s History Month and the birth month of farmworker leader Cesar Chavez. It is an occasion to learn the lessons that farmworker women like Maria Gomez have to teach us.
For that reason, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to publish a column in the Rio Grande Guardian that provides a glimpse of the decades-long activism of farmworker and LUPE member Maria Gomez.
Maria Gomez was hunched over onion furrows when she heard about the strike.
In 1977, Maria, her husband, small children, and three siblings were all working the onion harvest when farmworkers spontaneously walked off the job to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Her family urged her not to join. They feared losing their already meager wages and not being able to pay bills.
Maria was afraid, too. She was born on the U.S. side of the border, which made her a citizen. But her parents were undocumented, and she grew up on the Mexican side. When she moved to the U.S. at about age 15 to work the fields, she brought with her a fear of immigration officers.
She also brought with her a deep sense of right and wrong. Right away, she recognized the injustices of field work: long hours for low pay, no drinking water or bathrooms, excluded from most laws protecting workers.
Years later, when the strike came, she saw her chance to change all that. “El miedo que se lo lleve el viento,” she recalls telling her family at the time. May fear be carried away by the wind.
She took her kids and joined the strike.
Continue learning Maria's story and the lessons she has to teach us on the Rio Grande Guardian's website.