Patron Saint of Farm Workers
Artist: Mary Fournier
Born: March 31, 1927
Died: April 23, 1993
Occupation: Union leader, Labor organizer, Activist
I didn’t start out by deciding whom I most admire. I thought about Ruth in the Bible. She gleaned wheat after the harvesters. She left her own country to follow her mother-in-law to a new country. This made me think of Cesar Chavez, whose parents left their home to come to another country. When he was young, he toiled with his family in the fields as migrant farm workers.
I admire his lifelong dedication to improving the treatment, pay, and working conditions for farm workers, but not for his frequent hunger strikes that some believed contributed to his death on April 23, 1993. I also didn’t support his strong stanch against undocumented immigrants. He softened his stand on his toward the end of his life.
I chose strawberry picking to emphasize the back toiling work that many farm workers undergo. I chose a western setting because he was born near Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927. He moved with his family as a child to Sal Si Puedes, California, which translates to “escape if you can.”
- Mary Fournier