Born in Texas, and after spending her first ten years in Mexico with her family, Rosalinda Guillen entered the ranks of American farm workers at the age of 10. After growing up molded by that experience, Guillen was politicized during the 1988 Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. From that moment forth, she has served as a defining voice for the American Farm Worker Movement and has demonstrated the inextricable link between the dignity and voice of farm workers and the strength of sustainable agriculture in this country. Guillen has dedicated her life to making the people tilling the earth and picking the fruit that feeds this country, also the ones who get to dictate the policies governing agriculture.
Guillen serves as the executive director of Community to Community Development; a Washington-based non-profit working to this end. Her work has established the definition of food sovereignty as the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. As long as corporations control the majority of the farmland in this nation and decide what is produced on it in what way, the small, beginning and agroecological farmer will be at a disadvantage. With more people like Rosalinda Guillen on the front lines, the people and communities that put the food on the American table are much closer to getting the representation that they deserve.
For more on Rosalinda Guillen’s personal background and philosophy, watch this interview from the University of Washington’s Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Program. For more information also see the biographical piece from Tribuno Del Pueblo.