On Thursday, March 28th, YAYA joined members of the Farm Worker Association of Florida (FWAF), Hope Community Center, and their student guests on alternative spring break, for a panel discussion on immigration and a screening of the film, “Harvest of Dignity.” This event was part of National Farm Worker Awareness Week.
The panel consisted of Jessica from Hope Community Center, Jeannie from FWAF, and our own Melissa from YAYA and the Florida immigrant Coalition. This was a very informative panel. Jessica and Melissa gave personal testimonies about their experience with immigration, and Melissa also talked about the current state of immigration reform. Jeannie talked about some of the economic policies like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) that affect the livelihoods of people in other countries and how this affects immigration. Overall the panel was very informative for the students, and hearing the personal experiences of people who immigrated to this country is always perspective opening.
After the panel, we proceeded to watch the film, “Harvest of Dignity”. This film looks at the situations of farm workers now, and compares them with farm workers from 50 years ago. “Harvest of Shame” was a documentary film released in 1960, and it is referenced in this film as a comparison. The film highlighted the similarities between the issues migrant farm workers face then and now.
Farm workers face many issues: sub-poverty wages, pesticide exposure, and sexual harassment, to lack of water, shade, and bathroom breaks. This documentary shows the historical mistreatment of farm workers in this country. They were able to see how things like race, class, gender, and language were all a part of the farm worker struggle.
Overall this was a very successful even (in large part thanks to the Hope Community Center bringing all of the students they were hosting). Events like these are important for us to raise awareness and educate our communities about farm worker issues. Farm Worker Awareness Week is not as recognized as it should be, and so I was glad to have contributed a small part to increasing that awareness.
Pictures courtesy of Alex Saunders