Famed folk singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez rekindled her championing of La Causa by headlining a successful fundraiser on Saturday, July 13 in San Jose, Calif. to support ongoing farm worker organizing and the push for immigration reform by the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation. Held at the home of Bay Area television journalist Damien Trujillo, the benefit marked the sixth decade since Joan first stood with Cesar Chavez and the movement in the fields.
UFW President Arturo Rodriguez highlighted examples of how Joan “steadfastly raised her voice and offered her presence during times of great peril and difficulty” for the movement: She traveled to Phoenix in June 1972, to comfort and support a visibly weakened Cesar at the end of his 24-day fast over Arizona’s just-passed anti-farm worker law. She staged a benefit concert that fall at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to help the farm workers defeat a grower-backed statewide initiative similar to the Arizona statute. And during “the bloody summer of 1973” she joined Cesar and thousands of farm workers at funeral services for murdered grape striker Juan De La Cruz in Arvin, Calif. where she sang “Deportee,” Woody Guthrie’s beautiful song about 28 farm workers being deported to Mexico who perished in a tragic 1947 plane crash in western Fresno County.
Joan broke out her guitar and treated the audience to a few songs, including Deportee. She also sang along with Abel Sanchez and his “Si Se Puede All Star Band,” which also performed. Joan appears in Abel’s upcoming documentary, “Song for Cesar: The Movement and the Music,” honoring the civil rights and farm labor leader through the eyes and voices of many artists who lent their support to the UFW over the decades.
Joan Baez said she hoped that the fundraiser was a financial success. “It is certainly a spiritual success,” she quickly added.
“By lending her talent and presence to the farm workers over the decades, Joan showed us how music can do more than entertain—it can also inspire people to commitment and activism,” Arturo Rodriguez said.