Raices Latinas: Agriculture in McHenry County project kicks off March 30
Raices Latinas: Agriculture in McHenry County is a new project that is having its debut on Thursday, March 30, at the Woodstock Opera House.
The program begins at 6:30 p.m. at the opera house, 121 W. Van Buren St. in Woodstock. A reception with refreshments begins at 5:30 p.m. It is free; no registration is required.
The evening's event is the first in a series with a goal of gathering stories from local Latino/Latine people to add to a permanent collection to be shared with the public.
"We want to bring people's stories to light, to honor the contributions of Latinos/Latines to our agricultural history in McHenry County," said Zitlali Adame, project coordinator. "We hope people who currently farm or have farming in their family history will attend."
"Raices Latinas: Agriculture in McHenry County" is being funded by the Community Foundation for McHenry County's Transformational Grant. The project's mission is to honor the valuable contributions of the Latino/Latine community to McHenry County's rich agricultural history through education, collaboration, storytelling and celebratory events.
Other events are being scheduled throughout the year, including tours of Latino/Latine-owned farms. The events will serve as a way to meet and talk with people who have a story to tell about their experience as Latinos/Latines working on farms in McHenry County, past and present. The stories will be collected and presented to the public through an exhibit at the McHenry County Historical Society, as well as travelling exhibits and video documentation.
Six organizations are involved in the project, including Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, Farmworker & Landscaper Advocacy Project, Illinois Migrant Council, McHenry County Historical Society, the Center for Agrarian Learning at McHenry County College and The Land Conservancy of McHenry County.
The event will feature the 2010 documentary film "Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program," with guest speakers to talk about the project, followed by a reception with food, drinks and the opportunity for people to learn more about the year-long series and how they can be involved.
The film is in Spanish with English subtitles. The film sheds light on a program set up between the U.S. and Mexican governments to recruit Mexican farm laborers for temporary work in the United States. The program began during World War II and ended in 1964. The film includes interviews with surviving Braceros and their families.
Zitlali Adame adds, "We want to connect with people who have a story to tell about their family's experience as migrant workers coming to McHenry County. At this and future events, we will be gathering stories that will become part of our permanent collective history, to be shared through exhibits, videos and other ways so that they are accessible to everyone in McHenry County."
Raices Latinas will fill the void of long overdue attention to the contributions of Latino/Latine farmworkers in the county going as far back as the late 1800s.
Farmworkers are one of the most vulnerable populations in Illinois and have been on the front line of workers keeping the food chain going, from times of war to times of pandemic. Bringing the stories of Latino/Latine farmworkers to light will only enrich local history and tell the full story of the current state of agriculture in the area.
This is a free, Spanish/English event, no registration is required.
The doors open at 5:30 p.m., with a reception and refreshments until 6:30 p.m. when the program begins. For more infornation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.