My Life As A Career In The Great Depression

Submitted By goldenflairs
Words: 1351
Pages: 6

I may have fame now, but I had to work for all the fortunes I have today. Before I was born, my grandparents migrated from Mexico to Arizona. In the rural town of Yuma, I spent the first years of my life helping my family on a small farm with my siblings as the Great Depression began to spur across the United States. At about the age of ten, I remember anxiety and sorrow were always on my parent’s faces. My father agreed to clear eighty acres of land and in exchange he would receive the deed to forty acres of land that adjoined the home. The agreement was soon broken and the land was sold to a white man. My family was then forced to move. California is where we relocated ourselves and again, worked on a farm. Poverty hit my family like when the Titanic hit the iceberg. My father believed that the way to avoid poverty is to go to college. Therefore, it was necessary for me to go to school. Yet, school was not where I belonged. I was forced to speak English, when I only spoke Spanish at home, and because I was Mexican, I was bullied beyond extent. I wondered how receiving this grammar school education related to my life as a farmer at home. Soon, I found out that I would not have to stress of school at all. Instead of going to highschool, I stayed at home to aid my father in with work after my mother passed away. We often moved around California and worked in different fields from Brawley to Oxnard, Atascadero, Gonzales, King City, Salinas, McFarland, Delano, Wasco, Selma, Kingsburg, and Mendota. The list of farms seemed endless. The work was the same at each farm. As I got older I became fully aware injustice and justice. At each farm, I was treated with disrespect by the owners. I spoke with my father and addressed these issues. Out conversation opened my eyes and taught me that, compared to white workers, I, along will countless of other migrant workers, was not only underpaid, but was given barely any basic rights. Basic rights included lunch breaks, clean water, and even toilets in the fields. Why should farmers be mistreated? Was it not farmers who built the foundations of America before and after the British invaded? It was because farmers that America is here today! Therefore, the abuse that migrant farmers received needs to end. And it was up to a strong individual to take stand for theses farmers. I was ready to be that person.
I remember how in school, the white children would have more privileges. Whites always had luxury goods at their disposal and there were signs on the streets for well off restaurant and shops with signs that read “whites only” to prove it. What made men and women with white skin different from anyone else? Nothing, since we are all the same on the inside. When I began to think this way, I decided, in 1944, to sit in the white only section of the movie theatre. That moment was life changing to me. From that day forward I decided to dedicate my life to migrant problems including police brutality, immigration law, voter registration, and employment. Because I grew up in the fields, my number one focus was to give equal rights to migrant farmers. Migrant farmers paid below minimum wage. This was unjust. Something had to be done. Because I had interest in the writings of St. Francis and Mahatma Gandhi I believed that non-violent protests are the most productive way to obtain change. This was my idea; to protest in a non-violent way. I seemed like a silly plan, how would I even execute my protests? It was not until I met Fred Ross in 1953, did I begin to contrive any plans. Fred encouraged and gave me tips on how to be an organizer for a union. In 1962 I was successful in organizing the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). I traveled around California to speak with farmers and inform each one of my A Migrant Worker’s Non-violent Fight
Union. Soon, I had over 1700 members. With this amount of people, I was able to rise the pay from growers in a couple of California areas. My union was well