TUCSON, Ariz. - When Tucson activists launched Salt of the Earth Labor College in 1993 they didn't know exactly what to expect. Twenty years later they are amazed with the results.
The workers' school celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party on Aug. 31, and kicked off its 21st year with a showing of the classic labor movie "Salt of the Earth," for which it was named. Anita Torrez, a veteran of both the film and the 1950 strike it depicts, led the discussion following the showing. Anita and her late husband Lorenzo Torrez, who also appeared in the film, were two of the founders. In the short video below, Anita Torrez gives unique background information about the making of the historic film, showing the legacy that the Salt of the Earth Labor College carries forward.
The school has become a special community space for meetings and social gatherings as well as a venue for two semesters a year of lectures, discussions and films. Fall 2013, for a typical example, will include:
* a presentation on the history of, and need to defend and enhance, Social Security;
* a program titled "Chicano Culture of Resistance" with musical artist Luis (Nacho) Quinones;
* a panel on the new direction of labor which will include Rebekah Friend, executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO;
* a panel on "Saving Public Education" to include teachers, parents and a school board member;
It will end with a lecture about the history of the CIO.
More information is available at the school's website.
Over the years classes have grown from an average of 20 attendees to an average of 45 the last three years. Sometimes all 60 chairs are taken. The school is now working to increase its capacity, and also to branch out into new programs.
Video by Brenda Limon