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Elisa Batista's picture

Author Note: For those who do not live in the Bay Area, MomsRising plans to host a #FoodFri Twitter chat on the film and the farmworkers who grow and harvest our food, June 10th, 2016 at 1pmET/10amPT. Join us and RT! -Elisa

Every time my family passes through California’s dusty Central Valley, all kinds of emotions swell within me: anger, exasperation, but also gratitude and inspiration.

As Bay Area residents, my family regularly travels by car to southern California to visit friends. The agricultural center of the state or  “Steinbeck Country” is always a part of our trip. As the fields roll by my window, I glance over at the hunched bodies. I don’t see their faces, but know that they toil long hours in stifling heat. This knowledge makes me feel guilt and exasperation that they don’t have better work conditions.

92% of California farmworkers, are Latino; 77% of them non-U.S. citizens. And most of them live 200 percent below the federal poverty line. I am an immigrant rights activist so the irony of most U.S. citizens -- including immigrant foes -- blissfully consuming food by these laborers has never been lost on me.

You could say that the movie East of Salinas, a film by Laura Pacheco and Jackie Mow that aired on PBS last December, immediately grabbed my attention. Based in Salinas Valley, California, the 55-minute film centers on Jose, a young intelligent boy who is often guided by his teacher Oscar Ramos. The two are the sons of migrant farmworkers. But unlike Oscar, Jose is undocumented, and he is starting to realize that through no fault of his own many opportunities will be closed to him.

Like my drives through Central Valley, the emotions swelled: I smiled, I shed a tear – or two! – and felt hopeful that Jose would grab the hearts of audiences everywhere as he did mine.

If this is a film you’d like to see with me and other MomsRising volunteers in the Bay Area, please join us! For Immigrant Heritage Month in June, MomsRising, the Ecology Center, Welcome.US, and the Citizen Engagement Lab have partnered to show the film in Oakland, California. Here are the details:


Thursday, June 16, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)


The Lab - 1330 Broadway Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612

The tickets are free, but seating is limited. If you’d like to come – this is a great movie for kids, by the way! – reserve your ticket NOW at

Thanks! I hope to see you there! 

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