This post is by Nicole Janowicz Medrano, a campaign volunteer.
When I was a little girl, a special holiday tradition in my family was my grandmother’s legendary chicken posole, a traditional Mexican stew. Every Christmas morning, she wore her decades-old red apron and stood at the stove happily stirring a massive pot. Her heart bubbled over with love for her family. My cousins and I gobbled up as much of this delicious soup as we could fit into our little bellies. We yelled “Thank you, Grandma!” as we slurped the last of the broth from our bowls.
My grandmother learned how to cook by watching her parents prepare meals together. She describes these moments with tenderness and laughs with when she says, “My dad knew how to do everything in the kitchen, even make soup and tortillas!”
My great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Michoacon, Mexico. They settled in Santa Ana, CA where they raised four children. They supported their family, like many other immigrants at the time, by working as migrant farmworkers.
My grandmother was nine years old when she began working in the fields with her parents. She vividly remembers caring for her two-year-old brother while her parents were in the fields picking prunes. She recalls missing the first month of the school year, every single year, because her family worked through tomato harvest season.
My grandmother rarely mentions the harsh working conditions that many farmworkers endured in that time, like inadequate wages for backbreaking work, being charged per drink of water, or living in rented tiny shacks with no electricity or running water. When she discusses her childhood as a migrant farmworker, she reminisces about time spent with her family and watching her parents work together to prepare dinner. She still finds great joy in describing her mother, a very petite woman, and her father, who was tall and authoritative, as quite the odd couple standing next to each other making tortillas.
After she married my grandfather, a Mexican-American and a Marine, they opened a meat market in Lincoln Heights, a predominately Hispanic community in East Los Angeles. Like many other small business owners, they worked long hours nearly every day, including holidays. With their hard work, they put all four of their children through private Catholic high school and college.
Cesar Chavez was a particularly special hero for my grandparents. My grandmother strongly identified with Chavez and his supporters because she worked those same fields, picked those same grapes, and traveled those same roads up and down California with her family looking for work.
In 1968, Chavez embarked on his legendary 25 day fast “for nonviolence and a call to sacrifice.” My grandparents loaded their van with food from their meat market and drove to Delano, CA. They donated meals to the 8,000 farmworkers and supporters who attended the rally where Chavez ended his fast. In this way, my grandparents supported, celebrated, and honored the thousands of farmworkers coming together to effect change in their communities.
My family’s history is why I am proud to support Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate. I volunteer with Team Kamala because I learned from my family that we each have a role to play in making our communities better. Kamala knows that California and our nation are stronger because of the generations of immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life. She has been a voice for our immigrant communities, and as Senator, she will fight for comprehensive immigration reform.
I am proud of how far my family and California have come from the days my grandmother watched her parents cook together in their humble kitchen in Santa Ana, CA. If you’d like to join me in volunteering for Team Kamala, please sign up here.