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In the rich growing fields of California, there is a poorer Country; an impoverished land of shanties, labor camps and human exploitation. An afflicted land of toxic contamination, hunger and childhood death. An excluded land of illiteracy, doubt, self-denigration and despair.
This other America is the home of California's farm workers and rural poor. Here, the social reality is one of stark inequality where the poor see laws meant for their benefit ignored and unenforced. Here, the denial of justice can mean the difference between dependency and independence; domination and dignity; and even life and death.
Since 1965 CRLA has raised its powerful voice in the courtrooms, in the classroom& in the fields, and in the legislative halls of California. We have shown farm workers and other poor people that the law can be a friend and that those responsible for enforcing the laws can and should be called to account.
But it is not enough to be a civil defender. Through our example, our fight and our voice, we must also be teachers so that the poor may become aware. of their fights, guarding and wielding them as symbols of inclusion, participation and respect. It is this act of fighting back that empowers, bringing the beginning of hope, the beginning of confidence, the beginning of justice.