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CSUB grad student makes documentary on labor movement

Posted at 4:17 AM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 09:27:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Having grown up in a place with rich history, Maria Rodriguez is eager to make sure Kern County knows it.

She grew up in Delano, where Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta spearheaded the labor rights movement more than 50 years ago.

“Both my parents worked in the fields so this is a topic that is close to me,” said Rodriguez.

Her hometown of Delano is where workers picketed, where Senator Bobby Kennedy came to advocate for laborers and where historic labor contracts were signed. But even so, she says she never learned about the history that was made in her own backyard.

“It was just surreal to me and ironic that we didn’t learn about the grape strike. There was mentions of it, but I didn’t learn about it,” said Rodriguez.

And as an undergrad student at Cal State Bakersfield, she realized that was the same case for many other locals as well.

“It turned out that most of us didn’t know anything about it,” said Rodriguez.

So as a grad student, she made a documentary to capture the places of historic significance of the labor right movement in Kern County.

The documentary also gives the perspective of today's young generations that say they never learned about the history that was made in their own backyard.

"We have seen many other films that focus on the leaders but this one focuses on the people themselves. How they lived through the farm worker movement,” said Rodriguez. "You are not only getting the aspect from the grassroots, but the youth from the community. What they know what they don’t know. That’s an important aspect to see.”

You can watch the documentary “5 Decades Later: The Aftermath of the Grape Strike” in its entirety here.