• June 12, 2021
 NMSU’s 16th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium to focus on farmworkers

The 2021 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium March 28 through April 2 via Zoom conferencing at New Mexico State University will feature panels of experts bringing light to national issues impacting treatment of essential farmworkers in the border region. | Clip courtesy ‘Hailing Cesar’

NMSU’s 16th annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium to focus on farmworkers

“Justice for Farmworkers” is the theme of the 2021 J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium March 28 through April 2 via Zoom conferencing at New Mexico State University.

The virtual symposium will feature panels of experts bringing light to national issues impacting treatment of essential farmworkers in the border region. The event is the 2020-2021 symposium because it incorporates last year’s theme, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“Farmworkers lack many of the legal protections enjoyed by most workers in the U.S. and during the pandemic, their contributions are more critical than ever as they risk their health to ensure that the nation’s food supply is maintained,” said Cynthia Bejarano, NMSU Regents Professor and co-chair of the symposium. “During this year’s J. Paul Taylor Symposium scholars, students, community stakeholders and policymakers will come together from across the region to address important issues that impact farmworkers and their families.”

The symposium was founded by the revered New Mexico legislator and long-time educator J. Paul Taylor, who celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2020. NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences established the symposium in 2005 when Taylor suggested bringing resources of the university and community together to address areas of concern for underserved populations in the region.

“Justice for Farmworkers” begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 28 with introductions by co-chairs Bejarano and Martha Estrada, director of the College Assistance Migrant Program, followed by a blessing ceremony by the Tortugas Pueblo with remarks by Chancellor Dan Arvizu and a video address by J. Paul Taylor.

This year’s keynote speaker will be New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Panel discussions will range from the history of braceros in the borderland to health disparities, legal issues and public education. The event is open to the public via Zoom Meeting, ID: 99694546715.

Five people will receive social justice awards this year. Two named for the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Community Award and three named for the NMSU Department of Government Social Justice Award.

This year’s Community Award recipients work in public schools. Omar Hernandez, high school science teacher and soccer coach at Hatch Valley High School and Bernardo Lopez, Las Cruces Public Schools regional migrant recruiter, are both NMSU College Assistance Migrant Program graduates who have spent the last 10 years serving youth and families in farmworker communities.

“This award is a recognition of Omar’s years serving as a role model in the STEM field in Hatch, and a volunteer mentor with youth, particularly farmworker youth in the Hatch Valley,” said Bejarano. “As a state-wide recruiter for migrant education, Bernardo has been able to identify hard-to-reach farmworker families who were unaware of educational opportunities for their children as well as matching resources with farmworker families in need.”

Honorees for the NMSU Department of Government Social Justice Award are NMSU master of public administration graduate student Ashlerose Francia, selected for her involvement in a number of social justice programs and fundraisers on campus, and NMSU anthropology faculty members Nathan Craig and Margaret Brown Vega, who are volunteers for the Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention program.

“Ashlerose was selected for her outstanding efforts to promote social justice on campus and in the wider community,” said Neil Harvey, NMSU government professor and department head. “As Secretary of the Government Graduate Student Organization she took the lead in establishing a new Social Equity scholarship to support students who are committed to social justice activism in Congressional District 2.

She also volunteered with La Pinon Sexual Assault Recovery Service and worked to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity at NMSU through her internship with the Office of Institutional Equity, as a member of the Diversity Council and as Vice-President of the Graduate Student Council.

“Dr. Craig and Dr. Brown Vega were selected for their long-term accompaniment, research and advocacy for migrants held in ICE detention, in which they have not only provided immediate assistance to hundreds of migrants seeking legal services but also documented abuse and negligent treatment,” Harvey said.

“Their volunteer work as members of Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention is exemplary and provides important analysis to encourage policy makers and the broader public to call for an end to detention and the creation of more humane and just immigration policies.”

The J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium is held each year to coincide with the birthday of civil rights activist César Chávez. The week-long symposium will wrap up with a screening of the film “Hailing César” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 2.

The filmmaker, César E. Chávez’ grandson Eduardo Chávez, will be on hand for a question-and-answer session with participants. Watch the trailer for the film at via this link.

For detailed information about the various panels and times, click here.

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

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New Mexico State University

While the initial information was provided by NMSU, it has been reviewed and copy-checked by a Herald-Post editor. In some cases, the text has been reformatted for better readability.

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