By Frederick W. Farmer

The history of the Sarasota Manatee Farmworker Supporters goes all the way back to the early 1960s when Bishop Nevin came to Venice, Florida and started working with a very large Hispanic group of people in his Parrish who were migrant farmworkers.

As years passed the dire situation in the fields became common knowledge.
The ongoing work of the Diocese continued and other church and laity
concerned members of the community began to work with the popular
Catholic organizations such as Catholic Charities. By the 1980s and
1990s a concern for farmworkers from Central America emerged as the
region became a killing ground under the Reagan Administration and the first
Bush Administration.  At the time, migrant workers were seen as refugees
as some were not just here in Florida to work. They were here to escape
the violence and oppression in their country set forth by folks like
Oliver North in the Regan Administration.

Solidarity workers joined with political activists and students at New
College and other local universities to demand that the violence stop and to
shed light on the tragedy of Sarasota's underclass workers. As the concern
grew, a movement of local citizens emerged in the form of a Farmworker
Support Committee. Then under the leadership of the National Farmworker
Ministry a local chapter was formed. Now the works of the Catholic
Church combined with the Unitarians, The Religious Society of Friends
(Quakers) and others are at the core of this movement.

Sarasota has been visited by a number of heroic speakers that include
 Dolores Huerta of the UFW, Dr. Marion Moses, a UFW volunteer
for over 20 years and publisher of a book called Designer Poisons
hat deals with health issues associated with pesticides. Other vital as well
as inspiring speakers visited Sarasota from FLOC, Immokalee
and more.

As concern for the farmworkers grew, the United Farmworker Ministry sent in
a full time organizer to help institutionalize the organization and build a
progressive base in the Sarasota/Manatee area. Since that time we have
continued to grow and play an instrumental part for local and state
advocacy on farmworker and other related issues.

We will continue to move forward as we demonstrate how non-violent activism is our strength.

Together we will win!