This week is National Farmworker Awareness Week, and we are extremely honored that one of Durham’s own – and an invaluable member of Zomppa’s board of directors, Melinda Wiggins, is being honored today as one of ten Champions of Change at the White House. Please see the press release and check her out live at the White House today at 1:30pm EST. Congratulations, Melinda, and thank you for all that you do.
Below is the White House press release.
March 28, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
White House selects Student Action with Farmworkers’ Melinda Wiggins as Cesar Chavez “Champion of Change”
Melinda Wiggins, SAF Executive Director
Ronald Garcia-Fogarty, SAF Board Member
DURHAM (March 28, 2012) – On Thursday, March 29th, the White House will honor Melinda Wiggins, Director of Durham-based Student Action with Farmworkers, as one of ten leaders being recognized as Champions of Change.
Wiggins will be honored in Washington alongside nine other leaders who, like Cesar Chavez, have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others throughout their community and across the Nation. One of our Nation’s great civil rights leaders, Cesar Estrada Chavez came of age as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the injustice that pervaded fields and vineyards across California. Yet amidst hardship and abuse, Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change—the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose.
The event will be live-streamed Thursday, March 29 at 1:30 p.m. on the White House’s website.
Melinda Wiggins article about her work with SAF will be featured on the Champions of Change site.
The Chavez Champions of Change recognition is part of an Administration-wide effort to celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez as we approach what would have been the civil rights leader’s 85th birthday on March 31st. President Obama also signed a Presidential Proclamation affirming that, “On the 85th anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s birth, we are reminded of what we can accomplish when we recognize our common humanity…Today, we celebrate his courage, reflect on his lifetime of advocacy, and recognize the power in each of us to lift up lives and pursue social justice.”
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Actress America Ferrera, who will be playing Helen F. Chavez in the upcoming biopic called CHAVEZ to be filmed this Spring, will participate in Thursday’s Champions of Change event.
For over 15 years, Melinda Wiggins has served as the Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), a nonprofit whose mission is to bring students and farmworkers together to learn about each other’s lives, share resources and skills, improve conditions for farmworkers, and build diverse coalitions working for social change.
Melinda has taken the lead in creating and developing two key statewide immigrant and farmworker coalitions: The Adelante Education Coalition and the Farmworker Advocacy Network (FAN). She has brought her core values of transparency, accountability and profound systemic change to these coalitions, and as a result SAF has a very strong network of individual and organizational allies from around the state. Melinda is also active with several other social justice groups such as Zomppa and the Windcall Residency Program.