Commemorative Marches for Farm Worker Rights

Join the 50th Anniversary Commemorative March for Farm Worker Rights, September 11th in Austin

On Sunday, September 11, 2016, march to honor the justice struggles of farm workers 50 years ago—and to commit to the justice struggles that remain unfinished today.

Schedule

12 p.m.:  Program on the Quad at St Edward’s University

1 p.m.:  Start of 4-mile march to the Capitol

4 p.m.:  Arrive at Capitol for a rally

ufw-cesar-chavez

Background

In July and August of 1966, hundreds of people—including whole families—marched 400 miles from Rio Grande City to Austin to call attention to the plight of farm workers in Texas. On Labor Day, more than 10,000 supporters, including Cesar Chavez, walked with marchers the last four miles from St. Edward’s University to the South Steps of the Capitol. Texas religious leaders were among key supporters of the march, “La Marcha”—and of the movement for better pay and working conditions for farm workers.

The Rio Grande Melon Strike started in June, 1966, when workers who were paid between $.40-$.85 per hour called for a minimum hourly wage of $1.25. Rebecca Flores, former director of the United Farm Workers in Texas, notes: “It has been 50 years since the farmworker march and strike called attention to harsh working conditions and microscopic pay in Texas, but the issues of the minimum wage, poor working conditions, and substandard housing for migrant farmers are just as relevant in Texas in 2016. Remembering what the farmworkers did in 1966 is much more than a lesson in history.”

A United Methodist deacon at the time, Bishop Joel Martinez participated in La Marcha and has been instrumental in supporting this year’s commemorative march. “If we forget the previous generation’s struggles,” he warns, “we’re not going to do the justice work in the present generation. We have a lot of unfinished business in the state of Texas in terms of justice work around the issues of fairness in the workplace, educational opportunity, healthcare, and immigration policy. All of that is unfinished business for this generation and the generation yet to come.”

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