Reap What You Sow: Harvesting Change in North Carolina

On March 29, the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN) sponsored the premiere of the documentary Harvest of Dignity at the Galaxy Theatre in Cary, North Carolina. AFOP, a member of FAN, participated in the event, which was held as part of the Harvest of Dignity Campaign during Farmworker Awareness Week.  The Harvest of Dignity documentary explores the current plight of farmworkers in North Carolina, comparing today’s injustices to those demonstrated by Edward Murrow in the 1960 CBS documentary Harvest of Shame. The images that shocked the nation over five decades ago hold little in contrast to the current reality for migrant and seasonal farmworkers in North Carolina and throughout the rest of the country.

Approximately 200 attendees came to the premiere and participated in the panel discussion that followed the film screening. During the panel, farmworkers, advocates, and the filmmaker, Donna Campbell, along with Minnow Media took to the stage to discuss the documentary with the audience. The audience heard the emotional testimony of two Latino farmworker youth, describing the harsh living and working conditions in the North Carolina fields. However, the hard lifestyle of farmworkers does not only affect the Latino community. An African-American farmworker spoke about the many empty promises of decent housing and fair wages presented to him by crew leaders and growers over the past 15 years. The filmmaker concluded the panel discussion by pointing out why it was important to revisit this topic.

Child labor laws set different standards for the agriculture industry, allowing children as young as 12 to work an unlimited amount of hours outside of school, despite being one of the most dangerous industries in America. Farmworkers are exposed to pesticides, heat stress, and often have indecent living and working conditions. The Harvest of Dignity Campaign, launched last fall by FAN, aims to equalize protections and working standards in the agriculture industry. The campaign has gotten off to an energetic start, with many events planned around North Carolina, and continues to raise awareness across the state. As a result of the increasing visibility and attention, legislative changes that would equalize the child labor laws in North Carolina and strengthen safeguards on working and living conditions for farmworkers were introduced by North Carolina’s elected officials earlier this month.

Join FAN in helping bring justice and equality to North Carolina’s farmworker children, youth, and families. For more information and for ways to get involved please visit: www.ncfan.org

It’s time for change. It’s time for a HARVEST OF DIGNITY! If you would like to host your own screening of Harvest of Dignity please contact harvestofdignity@gmail.com.

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