Jessie de la Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker

Jessie de la Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker

by Gary Soto


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The remarkable story of the UFW's first woman organizer, eloquently written for young adults. Here is a quiet hero--a farm worker who walked the fields of the San Joaquin Valley for nearly half a century. Her name is Jessie De La Cruz. Much like other farm workers who threw down their hoes and their grape knives to fight for their rights as workers, she made a difference in the world. Studs Terkel wrote about Jessie De La Cruz, she has been quoted in histories of the UFW, and a television movie was partly based on her life. Finally, here is the life story of this remarkable woman, sensitively told by one of America's most eloquent writers. Born in 1919, Jessie worked alongside her family as they followed the crops throughout the state of California. She saw those around her struggle and sometimes die because of poor living and working conditions. Jessie wanted to help. And she always found a way, whether it was peddling soup with her grandmother to earn extra money for her family or translating for a Mexican diplomat who came to talk with workers and growers about conditions in the fields. In her teens, Jessie saw the first strikes. When Cesar Chavez asked her to collect names of farm workers who wanted to improve their lives, she agreed. She had a knack for that important work. She went from camp to camp, talking to workers, and became the UFW's first woman organizer. Jessie also married, and raised six children. Later, she went as a delegate to a Democratic convention, owned her own farm, testified before Congress, and met with the Pope. In this clear and moving narrative, enhanced by photographs of the period, Jessie De La Cruz comes to life. Her feelings and experiences are captured against a background of the Depression and the civil rights and labor movements. For those looking for inspiration, who wish to do big things--Jessie is living proof that it can be done.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780892552535
Publisher: Persea Books
Publication date: 01/28/2001
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.74(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.61(d)
Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Gary Soto, author of books for children, young adults, and adults, lives in Berkeley, California. His best-selling fiction includes Baseball in April and Buried Onions.

Table of Contents

Map of California2
Chapter 1Hurtful Beginnings3
Chapter 2Between the Rows18
Chapter 3Family of Her Own29
Chapter 4Hearing the Call of la Causa42
Chapter 5Speaking Out66
Chapter 6For the People77
Chapter 7A Farm of Their Own83
Chapter 8Jessie Today99
AppendixWill the Family Farm Survive in America? Congressional Testimony of Jessie De La Cruz105
Bibliography and Acknowledgments114

What People are Saying About This

Studs Terkel

I was so deeply moved by this portrait of a true American heroine.

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Jessie de la Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding portrayal of an amazing woman, why have we never heard of her before? Soto does an outstanding job of tracing Jessie's life and realistically tracing her accomplishments and triumphs as well as her set backs and disappointments. How can anyone do so much in so little time? We always hear of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, yet this woman has never come into view! Now we can learn all about her, thanks to Soto. This will be a best seller for sure. I think it is written for school age students but as an adult I marveled at its quality. Soto gives her the respect she deserves.