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In Memory of Jessica Govea

Photo by Hub Segur

Jessica Govea Thorbourne was a labor activist, United Farm Worker union leader, and educator. She is best known for her lifelong efforts to achieve justice, equality, education, and economic opportunity for Latino laborers. At age 58, she died from breast cancer in West Orange, New Jersey. (Wikipedia)

Publisher’s Note

In the early 1960s, I invited Jessica Govea to my senior class at Garces High School in Bakersfield California to make a speech presentation. Jessica was a member of the Speech and Debate Club at Bakersfield High School and had developed a reputation as a gifted speaker. She delivered the “I Have a Dream”speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, more than half-a-century later, I remember her  confident, composed and flawless moving presentation. So much talent at such a young age!

In the late 1960’s, I was fortunate to meet Jessica again, this time in the fledgling National Farm Workers Association founded by Cesar Chavez. Jessica joined the farmworker movement as a volunteer and her first assignment was to work with my wife, Bonnie, in the Service Center to assist the Delano Grape Strike  farmworkers and their families.

Some years later, Jessica was assigned to work with me to administer the Robert F. Kennedy Farmworkers Medical Plan – the first union medical plan in the U.S. for farmworkers.

In all, Jessica Govea volunteered with the farmworker movement for 15 years and played a major role in its development during the early years and its many successes throughout the 1970’s.

Only those who worked closely with Jessica had the opportunity to hear her sing. Fortunately, I heard her on several occasions and have  two recordings in my possession, which I share with you now. Thank you, it is my pleasure.  ~  LeRoy Chatfield (July 4, 2020)

La Paloma

La Vida No Vale Nada


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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