|IntroductionIntroduction by Abby F. Rivera
Yolanda Barrera was a young child when she met Cesar Chavez in the early 1960’s when he conducted house meetings with her family and other farmworkers that would spill out from their living room into the front yard of their home in Porterville in the foothills of the Sierras in the central San Joaquin Valley. In 1967, Yolanda served as the translator at union meetings after Juanita Brown and Virginia Rodriguez Jones left to join the grape boycott. Having helped her family with translations throughout her life, by age fourteen, she had become a seasoned translator and the pride of the union membership.
Yolanda has graciously provided the following pictures of a group of farmworker movement founders and strikers who came together on August 13, 2005, at Casa Hernandez (named in memory of union founders, Julio and Josefina) located near the old Pink House in Delano. Vibrant recollections of personal experiences were video recorded to document their historic role in the beginning of the farm worker movement - picketing in the fields, union marches, playing musical instruments, singing union songs, performing actos with El Teatro Campesino, marching behind the banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the famous Pilgrimage to Sacramento, following trucks loaded with grapes en route to faraway destinations or sitting on railroad tracks to stop grape shipments from leaving the city. Many of these early strikers left the picket lines in the fields to take the message of the grape strike to the boycott cities while others, just as determined, remained behind to work at the UFW union office at the Forty Acres.
Yolanda has dedicated her life to helping others first, as a school teacher and now, as an attorney. Her simple photos capture a memorable, uplifting reunion filled with camaraderie, chatter and the sense of anticipation reminiscent of long ago minutes before Cesar Chavez would appear to call the meeting to order to the resounding shouts of ¡Viva, Chavez!
(Photo captions provided by Abby F. Rivera)