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San Antonio Celebrates Labor Day with Farm Worker March

San Antonio celebrated Labor Day with a downtown march that remembered the 490 mile march that Texas farm workers completed 50 years ago.

The Labor Day procession began at San Fernando Cathedral and ended at downtown’s Milam Park. Hundreds gathered and chanted the same slogans that motivated striking farm workers 50 years ago.

The farm workers, virtually all Mexican Americans from the Rio Grande Valley, marched from the border to Austin to raise awareness of their plight. Congressman Lloyd Doggett said the march was the genesis of a Texas Mexican American civil rights movement.

“It helped advance the movement, in much the same way that Rosa Parks sitting in a bus in Montgomery did the same for the Civil Rights Movement, indeed this is part of the Civil Rights Movement.”

But one speaker – a farm worker who marched 50 years ago – Efraim Carrera called out to Doggett to tell him that the laws have changed but enforcement is lacking. He said farm workers still don’t have access to portable bathrooms.

“Congressman, there are laws to have the toilets out in the fields and I please ask you to do something about this because you know you have the law but the law is not being enforced.”

The speakers pointed out that the issues of child labor, wage theft, exposure to pesticides, and access to clean drinking water, adequate housing and more which prompted the march half a century ago – still persist today.


David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi