Oct 09 2012

Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America

With less than a month left until the presidential elections, President Obama stopped by Kern County during his California campaign trail, to dedicate a national monument in honor of Caesar Chavez. The 105 acre national monument is located near the founding headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW), which also served as Chavez’s home for 20 years in the area known as Nuestra Reina de La Paz.

Critics say that the dedication is an attempt on the part of the Obama administration to pander to Latino votes. Polls show 70% of Latino voters have said that they will be supporting Obama. Organizations like the Center for Community Change and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement have been working to register newly naturalized Latinos to vote in November.

During a recent interview with Univision, Obama said that his biggest failure was not coming up with comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Immigration reform for those who came to the United States without papers and their advocates is a top priority, much like the DREAM Act which gives undocumented students an opportunity to attend college. In June, in response to the prolific activism of DREAM Act students, President Obama approved the Deferred Action Plan which temporarily protects some young immigrants from deportation and allows them to have a work permit.

Now, a new documentary called Harvest of Empire, tells the history of Latino immigration to the US. The film is based on the acclaimed book by the same name, written by award winning journalist and co-host of Democracy Now, Juan Gonzalez. Published more than ten years ago, Harvest of Empire is required reading in many schools and colleges and chronicles the political and economic forces that pushed people out of their home countries in Latin America and into the US. The book also profiles many “Latino pioneers” living in the US. It is now out in a brand new revised and updated edition.

GUEST: Juan Gonzalez, is a columnist for New York Daily News and is co-host of Democracy Now. He won the 1998 George Polk Award for excellence in journalism and the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award. Juan, of Puerto Rican background is also one of the original founders of the 1960s Young Lords.

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