Today we celebrate activist, educator and writer Ernesto Galarza.
Ernesto Galarza became an activist and a labor organizer. “…because he had gone to school to learn English, the Mexican workers asked him to protest over polluted drinking water that had taken the life of one baby in the camp and was making others sick” (Arizona Republic). As a social activist he spent his time advocating for the rights of agricultural workers and he helped organize numerous worker strikes. In 1964, Galarza published Merchants of Labor: The Bracero Story, which helped end the Bracero Program.
Galarza’s teaching excellence earned him several honorary positions such as, Distinguished Visiting Professor at San Jose State University, visiting professor of Community Development at the University of California San Diego, Honorary Fellow at U.C. Santa Cruz, and California Associate in Mexican-American Problems.
Galarza’s mother tongue is Spanish. He learned English at the age of 12. He authored: Strangers in our Fields in 1956, Merchants of Labor in 1964, Spiders in the House and Workers in the Fields in 1970, Barrio Boy in 1971, Farm Workers and Agribusiness in Californiain 1977, and Tragedy at Chualar in 1977.
Read more from Lorenzo Chavez’s article from UTSA Studies in Transnational Literatures, Dick Meister’s Ernesto Galarza: “Man of Fire”, Universidad de Alacalá’s Camino Real Journal and Ernesto Galarza’s The Burning Light: Action and Organizing in the Mexican Community in California