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Call to the Fields


This coming Sunday, July 27, 2008, I will move into a labor camp in the most difficult time of the year.  North Carolina leads the nation in heat stroke deaths, many of the past cases happen in July and August, when men are not only battling the heat but also nicotine poisoning.  


The workers FLOC represents in North Carolina harvest 26 different crops, ranging from cucumbers to tobacco to Christmas trees. In my farmwork history, I’ve worked in all those harvests or close to them, row crops, bush or tree crops, but never anything close to tobacco with its particular challenges.


I feel compelled to experience what the men go through in what is considered the worse, the riskiest, and the dirtiest of the jobs.


My sense is these men are generally getting a bad rap. Listen to the talking heads on radio and TV, railing against immigrants, legal and undocumented, doesn’t seem right to me or truthful. 


I will spend a modest week working with them and hope to write what these men go through, their hopes, expectations, their tragedies, and their humanity to the public. It will allow me the privilege to speak more knowledgeably on their behalf as president of their union.


I hope to send out a nightly message and the end of each day to a select list. It is my desire to shed light from the inside, a life that most stand in judgment of, without the courtesy of walking for a season in the other’s shoes.


Baldemar Velásquez,

President FLOC, Toledo

July 21, 2008

Call to the Fields Part V

Call to the Fields Part IV

Call to the Fields Part III

Call to the Fields Part II

Call to the Fields






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