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Man of Fire

Man of Fire: Selected Writings

ERNESTO GALARZA
ARMANDO IBARRA
RODOLFO D. TORRES
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt2ttdn6
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  • Book Info
    Man of Fire
    Book Description:

    Activist, labor scholar, and organizer Ernesto Galarza (1905 - 1984) was a leading advocate for Mexican Americans and one of the most important Mexican American scholars and activists after World War II. This volume gathers Galarza's key writings, reflecting an intellectual rigor, conceptual clarity, and a constructive concern for the working class in the face of America's growing influence over Mexico's economic system. Including excerpts from some of Galarza's indispensable books Barrio Boy and Merchants of Labor: The Mexican Bracero Story as well as articles, conference papers, interviews, and previously unpublished reports, the writings in this collection cover such timely subjects as community development, immigration politics and the Bracero Program, the Chicano movement, Mexican American education, ethnic relations, and U.S.-Mexico relations.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09493-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Rodolfo D. Torres and Armando Ibarra Salazar
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    Ernesto Galarza (1905–1984) was the most significant and prolific Mexican American social critic and public intellectual of the twentieth century. He eludes classification: his passion, integrity, dignity, and grit as a labor organizer, a researcher, an expert witness, an educator, and the voice of the farm worker labor movement earned him the well-suited name of “man of fire” by admirers as well as critics.

    From his initial writings on the church in Mexico in 1928 to his later publications on Mexican labor in the United States, the Bracero Program, Mexican migration, urban politics, planning, and education, social and economic...

  6. ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  7. PART 1. COMING OF AGE IN A CLASS SOCIETY

    • IN A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE
      (pp. 3-14)

      Aunt Esther had married Don Catarino López, one of a numerous family of Jalco. Don Catarino, his father, and brothers worked the corn patches and the milpas on the mountain, tilled and harvested bananas deep in the forest and earned a living in other ways from the countryside. Don Catarino had brought his bride, Esther, to the pueblo where they were living with their two boys—Jesús, a year older than myself, and Catarino junior, a year younger. The four of them hardly filled the one big room of the cottage. The extra beds behind the curtain and the tapanco...

    • ON THE EDGE OF THE BARRIO
      (pp. 15-24)

      To make room for a growing family it was decided that we should move, and a house was found in Oak Park, on the far side of town where the open country began. The men raised the first installment for the bungalow on Seventh Avenue even after Mrs. Dodson explained that if we did not keep up the monthly payments we would lose the deposit as well as the house.

      The real estate broker brought the sale contract to the apartment one evening. Myself included, we sat around the table in the living room, the gringo explaining at great length...

  8. PART 2. MEXICAN LABOR, MIGRATION, AND THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

    • LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES FOR MEXICAN PEOPLE: OUT OF THE EXPERIENCE OF A MEXICAN
      (pp. 27-31)

      The chief interest in the Mexican immigrant in the United States at the present moment centers around the question of whether Mexico shall be placed on the quota basis…. The restrictionists have mustered the familiar artillery of racial dilution and the color flood, while those who seek to keep the gates open, as they have been for the last eighteen years, are once more pressing the equally old argument that the very economic structure of the United States rests on the brawn and sweat of the immigrant.

      Whatever may be the relative merits of the contending theses, one effect of...

    • PROGRAM FOR ACTION
      (pp. 32-45)

      The conditions of life and work of the Spanish-speaking minority in the United States are no longer a problem only of the borderlands. A historical process has been at work lifting this problem above local and sectional concern. It now involves communities as distant from the United States–Mexican border as Chicago, New York, and Detroit. It shows up in the rural slums that lie on an arc stretching from Arkansas to northern California. It is documented in federal reports on employment and in community conferences on human relations in the urban industrial East as well as in the rural...

    • CALIFORNIA THE UNCOMMONWEALTH
      (pp. 46-62)

      California was given its name by the Spanish writer, Rodrigues de Montalvo, early in the 16th century. He wrote of a fabled island inhabited only by women who waited somewhere in the imagination of chivalry for the coming of the conquistador. Three centuries of exploration finally brought soldiers and priests to the real California—Alta, a massive addition to the colonial empire bordering the Pacific for a thousand miles; and Baja, a stringy peninsula dangling off the west coast of New Spain.

      California remained unsettled and undefended. While feudalism marked time south of the Rio Grande, the Americans marched on...

  9. PART 3. ACTION RESEARCH IN DEFENSE OF THE BARRIO

    • PERSONAL MANIFESTO
      (pp. 65-71)
      Ernesto Galarza and Gabrielle Morris

      Transcribers: Ann Enkoji, Marie Herold

      Final Typist: Matthew Schneider

      GALARZA: There is a limit to what you can ask one individual to do, and I think that limit has been reached with me. Fortunately, we have taken the precaution of leaving a record in various places—in Alviso, in San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz. So I don’t feel that these are blank pages that still have to be written by me.

      In fact, the whole theory on which I operated for years is that if I wrote books in detail, with documentation listed, and bibliographies, that that would be my...

    • THE REASON WHY: LESSONS IN CARTOGRAPHY
      (pp. 72-75)

      The making of political maps is one of the more comforting occupations of mankind. The neat designs in contrasting colors convey a feeling of an orderly division of habitats. Such maps are frozen devices that show how peoples and governments have arranged themselves on any given date. The difficulty is that the map is always outdated because men will not stay in place. Especially when they have been assigned by their governments and ruling institutions a habitat that constrains rather than liberates, will they devise ways of breaking through.

      That, in essence, is the history of the borderlands between the...

    • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BY MEXICAN-AMERICANS IN OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
      (pp. 76-99)

      Exposure of a demographic area significantly or heavily peopled by Mexican Americans, particularly for the purpose of taking an economic picture, is more than likely to produce a series of negatives. If these negatives are viewed by experts accustomed to analyzing and planning for institutional structures of wide scope and great resources, they usually find it time-consuming and often annoying to adjust the focus. It is becoming more and more apparent however that the time must be spent and the annoyance endured. The Central City is ailing badly, and minorities like the Mexican-Americans are at the core of the syndrome....

    • ALVISO: THE CRISIS OF A BARRIO
      (pp. 100-128)

      Physical space offers the possibilities and limits the conditions of the existence of a human society. The founders of a village, a town or a city begin by appropriating space. Its distribution, arrangement, uses, regulation and occupancy whether resting on conquest, domination, custom or law, determine the conditions of life of the occupants.

      Where space is seized by conquest and its previous holders are destroyed or dispersed, or where it is claimed by discovery and primitive settlement, the appropriation of space is comparatively easy to observe and to record. With the emergence of western industrial urbanism in the last three...

  10. PART 4. POWER, CULTURE, AND HISTORY

    • MEXICANS IN THE SOUTHWEST: A CULTURE IN PROCESS
      (pp. 131-160)

      Let me say at the beginning that this is not a research report carried out for scholarly purposes. It is more a loose meditation on some 40 years of field experience in “a land full of wonder but not much information,” to borrow from J. R. [R.] Tolkien. My view of the subject is perhaps slanted by the fact that I have been in this land not as a participant-observer, but as a participant-adversary. I have not liked much of what I have seen in the intersection of cultures in the Southwest, where cultures do intersect, and I have been...

    • THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN MIGRANT WORKER—CULTURE AND POWERLESSNESS
      (pp. 161-166)

      My name is Ernesto Galarza…. I suppose the reason for my being invited here is that my experience in and with farm labor goes back some 40 to 45 years. I spent my early life in California between sessions of school work in the fields and canneries and from 1948 until 1960 I was field organizer and educational director for the National Farm Labor Union.

      In this connection my assignments took me to the Southern States, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, but for the most part to California and Arizona. So that I have worked with Mexican farmworkers who are residents, with...

    • HOW THE ANGLO MANIPULATES THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN
      (pp. 167-174)

      Some months ago Lino Lopez asked me if I would talk at this meeting, and I said I would be glad to. We agreed on a topic that ran something like “The Sociological Involvement of Mexican-Americans in the Political and Cultural Life of California.” When I received the program, it said “How the Anglo Manipulates the Mexican-American.” Since I got the program day before yesterday, I have had to do some thinking about manipulation. What I have to say this evening begins with the fact that since I didn’t know what I was going to talk about and didn’t have...

  11. PART 5. ORGANIZING AGAINST CAPITAL

    • LABOR ORGANIZING STRATEGIES, 1930–1970
      (pp. 177-191)

      QUESTION: Do you think the political scene now is conducive to a better understanding of what the Mexican community is trying to do?

      GALARZA: I’m having a hard time knowing just where it stands; that goes for the Mexicans and for the farm workers. I think if you look at the situation from the standpoint of where the Delano union is now, I’m very concerned over the possibility that Nixon may be able to weather this storm and a reaction may set in in the country between now and ’76 that would strengthen those [opposed to farm worker organizing]. I...

    • POVERTY IN THE VALLEY OF PLENTY: A REPORT ON THE DI GIORGIO STRIKE
      (pp. 192-202)

      The Di Giorgio Fruit Corporation’s 12,000-acre ranch in Kern County, located 18 miles from Bakersfield, California, is one of the largest enterprises of its kind in the United States. It is the backbone of $20,000,000 business owned by Joseph Di Giorgio’s family corporation.

      Di Giorgio requires some 1,200 employees to operate this ranch. At the peak of the season he hires additional field hands and packers. Many of these full time workers live in the towns of Arvin and Lamont, a short distance from the Di Giorgio corporation’s fields and packing sheds. Other workers live in Bakersfield. Still others drift...

    • PLANTATION WORKERS IN LOUISIANA
      (pp. 203-223)

      The National Agricultural Workers Union–AFL began organizing plantation workers in southern Louisiana in the spring of 1952. Shortly after [that,] it established Local 317, with headquarters in Reserve. District affiliates of Local 317 represented every important cane producing parish in the Lafourche, central River and eastern Teche areas. The membership of the union, including men and women, Negroes and whites, represented the field work force of every one of the largest corporations and a majority of the commercial farms in the Sugar Bowl.

      The union immediately undertook to represent cane field workers in the hearings held once a year...

    • THE FARM LABORER: HIS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OUTLOOK
      (pp. 224-235)

      The topic assigned to me was the economic and social outlook of the migrant farm worker. I pondered about this assignment for a good bit because I could see two ways of approaching it. One was for us to assume that we suspect, or we believe, what the social and economic outlook of the migrant ought to be or might be. The other would be to try to collect from my experience, current and past, the evidence which has come to me of the conversation, the reactions, the views, and the opinions of the workers themselves which, taken together, would...

    • STRANGERS IN OUR FIELDS
      (pp. 236-256)

      “In this camp,” one Mexican National told me, “we have no names. We are called only by numbers.” The man I was talking to had been in the United States only a few weeks, and he was referring specifically to the labor camp in which he lived. But he could almost as well have been describing the nearly complete anonymity of all the Mexican citizens who work in U. S. fields under an agreement between the two nations.

      During their short stay in this country, the Mexican Nationals come close to being nameless men. Every year, thousands of them come...

  12. PART 6. LETTERS FROM AN ACTIVIST

    • TO ALFRED BLACKMAN, CALIFORNIA DIVISION OF INDUSTRIAL SAFETY, JUNE 20, 1957.
      (pp. 259-260)
      Ernesto Galarza

      June 20, 1957

      Dear Mr. Blackman:

      It has been brought to my attention that a Mexican national by the name of Toribio Rodriguez was killed in a fall from a truck while employed by the De Candia Farms near Stockton, California.

      The death occurred on May 26, I believe. Rodriquez, according to the testimony of fellow workers, was riding with 47 other workers on a truck which was not provided with the safeguards prescribed by law.

      A month before the accident which killed this man and injured others the Nationals in the camp had asked the Mexican Consul to investigate...

    • TO CONGRESSMAN JAMES ROOSEVELT, DECEMBER 20, 1957
      (pp. 261-262)
      Ernesto Galarza

      December 20, 1957

      Dear Congressman Roosevelt:

      During the past few weeks we have been sending you, to your office in Washington, copies of recent complaints of domestic farm workers who live in San Joaquin County. The complaints are based on the continuing violations of Public Law 78, specifically the provision that domestic farm workers shall be given preference in agricultural employment over Mexican contract Nationals.

      Because of the peculiar investigatory procedures followed in such cases by the Department of Employment; and because of the screen of secrecy which has been drawn across public information now available only to growers, it...

    • OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CO-SIGNED BY NAWU PRESIDENT H. L. MITCHELL, FEBRUARY 17, 1958
      (pp. 263-264)
      H. L. Mitchell and Ernesto Galarza

      February 17, 1958

      Dear Congressman:

      Will you use your influence to bring a thorough investigation of the operation of the Mexican Farm Labor Importation Program? Under Public Law 78, the Secretary of Labor is authorized to bring in Mexican Nationals to be employed as seasonal harvest hands. In 1956 and again in 1957, nearly one-half million Mexican contract Nationals were employed on 68,000 of the largest farms in this country.

      We believe that a full scale investigation by Congress will reveal that the administration of this Mexican Farm Labor Importation Program has broken down and that it now approaches a...

    • TO HENRY P. ANDERSON, APRIL 2, 1958
      (pp. 265-266)
      E Galarza

      April 2, 1958

      Dear friend,

      Renner is changing homes just now, also considering the possibility of going into business in Mexico. I expect to see him in the next two weeks in Stockton and will ask him to get in touch with you.

      I did receive the 100 pages you sent and thought I had promptly acknowledged it. Sorry. It is a very useful job. I hope it will be properly released sometime.

      It is true that the growers have been considering an about face on PL 78 and a plan to use the immigration law on a large scale....

    • TO HENRY P. ANDERSON, APRIL 30, 1958
      (pp. 267-268)
      E Galarza

      April 30, 1958

      Dear friend:

      The “knight letters” will continue for another number or two. I trust their substance will continue to square with the facts as you know them.

      We have already collected evidence that the $4.00 per month deduction for insurance is not enough. Some men are being charged at the rate of $6.00 per month.

      I did not know that the consular staff in LA receives free medical services from Pan American. This does interest me. Can you suggest a follow up that would enable me to report this first hand? It is much too “delicado” a...

    • LETTER TO HENRY P. ANDERSON, JUNE 24, 1958
      (pp. 269-270)
      Eg

      June 24, 1958

      Dear friend Hank:

      Your very interesting letter rushed me back ten years to the time I fled Washington, for much the same reasons, but with this difference: I had felt a growing entombment under a mass of filed information, administrative hypocrisy, empty ritual and ineffectual good will. It had taken me another ten years to realize fully—and document perversely by reason of ingrained academic compulsion to prove all things—what you discovered in the bare ten days that shook Hank Anderson.

      Your appraisals are not unjust. There are extenuations in one or two cases, the evolution...

    • TO JACK LIVINGSTON, AFL-CIO DEPARTMENT OF ORGANIZATION, AND NORMAN SMITH, AFL-CIO ORGANIZER, MAY 5, 1959
      (pp. 271-272)
      E. Galarza

      May 5, 1959

      To: Jack Livingston

      Norman Smith

      To clarify a number of questions on reports and expenses:

      1. Is there a special voucher or form to report public transportation (buses and trains don’t extend receipts)?

      2. Some of my mileage will have to be reported as use of my 1953 Ford. A 1959 Chevy is unhandy for driving in and out to camps and ranches at odd hours to make contacts. The official car is fine for city trips or nonfarm calls. Is this agreeable?

      3. Because of the peculiarities of our work some interesting information and useful contacts can best be...

    • TO NORMAN SMITH, DECEMBER 5, 1959
      (pp. 273-274)
      E.G.

      Dec. 5, 1959

      To: Norman Smith

      Copy to John Livingston

      We are ready to bring legal pressure to bear on Driscoll Associates, Anderson Estates and Ferry-Morse Seed Company. Driscoll is the largest grower and processor of strawberries in the United States. Anderson is agricultural supervisor to President Eisenhower. Ferry-Morse has a 1000 acre operation in Hollister, with national and international connections.

      We have been carefully preparing cases involving all three and are now ready to call in legal counsel. The cases are so prepared as to lead into the matter of the hiring of Mexican Nationals and discrimination against domestic...

    • TO “LIBERAL FRIENDS WHO LIVE IN THE EAST,” MARCH 18, 1960
      (pp. 275-276)
      Galarza

      San Jose, Calif.

      March 18, 1960

      Memorandum written in Despair to my Liberal Friends who live in the East …

      A year ago I tried to warn you that the appointment of an Advisory Committee by Secretary of Labor Mitchell was a white-tie hearing intended to confuse and divide the groups that have been opposing Public Law 78.

      I have just read H.F.11211 (Mr. McGovern), the fruit of the Advisory Report. Here is, therefore, the political situation on the eve of the hearings:

      1. The National Agricultural Workers Union, the only organization that has fought with the growers toe to toe...

  13. PART 7. APPENDIX

    • VALE MÁS LA REVOLUCIÓN QUE VIENE
      (pp. 279-282)
      Mae Galarza
  14. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 283-284)
  15. SELECTED CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 285-288)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 289-296)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 297-308)