"What brought me and my family to the United States from Mexico also brought hundreds of thousands of others like us."
Planting and Harvesting Ernesto Galarza was born in a village in the mountains of the state of Nayarit, Mexico. Fleeing the upheavals of the Mexican Revolution, his family moved to Sacramento, California, where Galarza attended public school and worked alongside his family in the fields. Galarza, while still a school boy, became concerned about the Mexican agricultural workers' poor living conditions. When a baby died and many people became sick from drinking polluted water, the workers asked Ernesto, who had learned English in school, to lead a protest. After graduation from
high school Galarza continued his education, becoming the first Mexican American to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University.
Teaching and Writing Galarza was the author of numerous books on social and economic topics geared toward the Mexican-American community. He became a labor organizer and, eventually, the executive secretary of the National Farm Labor Union. In addition, Galarza was deeply committed to
the education of young people. He and his wife, Mae, developed a bilingual education program that became a model for other programs. The scarcity of children's literature published in Spanish led Galarza to translate Mother Goose stories and write a series of children's stories called the Coleccion Mini Libros. Barrio Boy, published in 1971, grew out of stories he told his daughters. In 1976 Ernesto Galarza became the first Mexican American nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.