Activist Jesús Salas speaks at Wisconsin Historical Society

  • Post Author
    by Camila trimberger-ruiz
  • Post Date
    Thu Sep 21 2023
Salas (right) showcases documents from his family's time in the Crystal City Internment Camp

Chicano activist, Jesús Salas, visited the Wisconsin Historical Society on Wednesday night to discuss his latest book, “Obreros Unidos: The Roots and Legacy of the Farmworkers Movement.” 

Salas, a third-generation migrant worker, is best known for his efforts in leading the farmworkers movement in Wisconsin as well as fighting for Chicano rights at both the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Milwaukee.

Ninety minutes in total, he recounted highlights of the Chicano movement during his lifetime alongside Sergio M. González, who wrote the foreword of the book. Speaking in “Spanglish,” Salas discussed what it was like growing up in an internment camp, moving from Texas to the midwest and the effects of being a farmworker in his childhood.

With both humor and riveting detail, Salas spoke about his experiences as the co-founder of Obreros Unidos, or Worker's United. Through organizing boycotts and protests across the state, Salas gained support on both a local scale with politicians such as Vel Phillips, and a national scale with other Chicano activists such as César Chávez.

The presentation was introduced by professor Rubén Medina, the Director of Chican@ & Latin@ Studies at the UW–Madison. Professor Medina called the event, “a celebration in the plural,” announcing that in addition to Salas' talk, the university's new Chican@ & Latin@ Studies major had reached over 20 students.

The event comes as a part of the 2023 Wisconsin Book Festival.