Hispanic Heritage Month:
October 13, 2013
Name: Ernesto Galarza
Occupation: Labor organizer, historian, professor, activist
Birth, death: Aug. 15, 1905-June 22, 1984
Birthplace: Nayarit, Mexico
After his family migrated to California from Mexico, Ernesto Galarza worked in fields as a laborer, which would later become his spur to organize unions for farm laborers. His efforts would create the foundation for the United Farm Workers Union of the 1960s, according to the San Jose Unified School District.
Despite being poor, Mr. Galarza went on to earn a masters degree in Latin American history and political science in 1929, and a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1944. According to Stanford's Chicano and Latino Studies Department, Galarza was one of the school's first Hispanic alumni. His papers and archives are housed in the Department of Special Collections at Stanford.
Mr. Galarza was a founding member of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the National Council of La Raza.
He also wrote several books that shed light on the exploitation of laborers. His books included Barrio Boy, 1971, Merchants of Labor: The Mexican Bracero Story, 1964, and Spiders in the House and Workers in the Field, 1970. In 1979, Mr. Galarza became the first U.S. Hispanic to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, according to Stanford University.