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No film in recent years has moved me as much as The Fight in the Fields.
At a the time when the history of our working people is being erased, this
marvelous movie rekindles our memory of this gallant battle. Most important,
it will be a revelation to the young, who must not be deprived of their
Last night I watched "Fighting in the Fields" and want to congratulate
you on a job well done. I am a third generation Mexican-American who has
never had to work in the fields, but my father did. Last night I had lumps
in my throat and I saw the reaction your documentary film had on my father.
He said to me afterwards, "Be thankful to God that you never had to
work in the fields."
I thank you for giving me more insight to the struggles my people have faced
in this country. I wish you all the success in your brilliant career.
Larry J. Rodarte
Thomas C. Layton, Executive Director
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
470 Columbus Avenue, Suite 209
San Francisco, CA 94133
Dear Mr. Layton,
I'm writing to you this time not in my official capacity as Dean's
Secretary (to Jim Midgley), School of Social Welfare, Berkeley, and helper
with the Gerbode Fellows program--even though that is how I have come to
be acquainted with you--but rather as a private citizen and occasional viewer
of public television. Last night I happened to tune into the PBS program
"The Fight in the Fields," about Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers
movement, and I noticed during both the opening and closing funding credits
that The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation had helped to fund the program.
I want to extend my sincere thanks to the
Gerbode Foundation for their funding of this fine, intelligent, well crafted,
thoughtful, and inspiring production. As you may or may not know, Dolores
Huerta will be the commencement speaker for the School's MSW/Ph.D. graduation
ceremonies later this month--which is why I was curious to watch the program
in the first place--and in early April of this year the campus student center
was renamed in honor of Cesar Chavez. After seeing "The Fight in the
Fields," now I know why.
My thanks then, once again, to your Foundation.
I learned much in but a short two-hour period, and the format/presentation
will most definitely remain memorable to me.
With my best regards,
I thought the documentary "The Fight in the Fields" was excellent!
It gave extensive coverage of the historical relationship of labor unions
national politics, and how Cesar and the UFW fit into the scheme of things.
I believe the film gives the viewer a good idea of the amount of suffering
and struggling the farmworkers, Cesar and the movement went through in their
passionate desire for change. The film also exposes the fear, hatred and
ignorance of the opposition by revealing their negative behavior and racist
remarks. It's an excellent educational film for everyone because it covers
so many subjects such as unions, immigration, politics, etc. I like how
the interviews were mixed with live footage, music, government films and
newsreels. And I liked how it showed how this movement inspired young Chicanos
to become activists and artists. It was interesting to me to hear about
the church's involvement, the significance of the practices of fasting and
nonviolence, and about concepts such as 'Mississippi Eyes.'
San Francisco critic John Carman gave this documentary a bad review. To
me it seems almost sacrilegious to criticize such an important piece of
work. He said the film didn't mention the UFW's effectiveness, and that
it does not say enough about Cesar's life to explain the type of person
he became! In the review Carman also asks many questions that are clearly
answered in the film. I suggest he watch it again, but this time give it
the attention it deserves!!
I hope this provocative documentary helps some viewers to not only understand
and sympathize with the farmworkers' struggle, but also inspires them to
become social activists.
Sinceremente, Anita Quintanilla
I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your documentary on the
UFW. It is an amazing piece of work! As a native of Watsonville; as an attorney
who worked in the San Francisco, Salinas (with the legendary Mo Jourdane)
and Santa Maria (when Fred Ross, Jr. was in residence), California Rural
Legal Assistance offices from 1972-1977; and someone with many friends who
worked for the Labor Relations Board, it was a great bit of nostalgia and
a visual reunion. Your telling of the story interwoven with the dignity
and beauty of the faces of campesinos, did justice to the movement.
As another Tejada, I have kept up with
your career over the past years during my departures and returns to San
Francisco. It is terrific to see your work receive the national credit it
Thank you for making those years of struggle
and the many courageous people involved come alive for others to witness.
We loved Fight in the Fields! We cried often and throughout--at deaths and
at victories, at defeats and at moments of solidarity against adversity.
It really brought back memories of how despicable Reagan and Duke were and
how angry and often helpless we felt.
The segment on the explosion of cultural production inspired by the movement
was right on. We have a section in our film in which a Black screenwriter
says she didn't realize how important a political movement was to pry open
the cultural doors that permitted her a brief foothold in Hollywood. It's
also true for the grassroots. The political movement pried open our minds
and spirits. Your film really brought that back and made it real.
There's a lot more we could
say about the incredible archival footage and the photos, which were Amazing.
We think you hit it right--it really is a history of that time as reflected
in the movement and the life of its leader. It reminds us of Taylor Branch's
Parting the Waters--the great book about the civil rights movement and Martin
Luther King. Some of the critics may have missed this, but we didn't. It
was clear as it could be. Many congratulations. We hope you are well. Stay
in touch... and once again Bravo. Encore!
Dear Ray and Rick,
This is to congratulate, thank and salute you for your
benchmark UFW film. You have told the story of the farmworkers, Cesar and
the UFW with no false notes. It could not have been easy and I think now
you can rest a bit on your laurels.
Every viewer who was a part
of that struggle surely felt as I did- "You told my story". Thanks,