Jul 24, 2019
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Courtesy Fresno State

Story of forgotten farmworkers’ rights hero told at CineCulture

Fresno State CineCulture presented “Adios Amor,” on May 10, a documentary film about a hero who made history, but whose story was never told.

Maria Moreno, a mother of twelve children, moved her family from Texas to California. The struggles of hunger that many farmworkers, including her family, had faced inspired her to begin fighting for America’s farmworkers.

“The road is our home. The ground is our table. Any place we go is our home,” said Moreno in the film.

Moreno had an education level of only second grade, but that did not stop her from fighting for justice. She had asked for help after her family’s house got flooded. The response encouraged her to speak up because nobody wanted to help her.

“I’m [an] American citizen, and I am talking for justice, ” said Moreno in the film.

Laurie Coyle, a documentary filmmaker and writer, said she was inspired by lost photos of a hero that history forgot. Those photos captured the history of Maria Moreno fighting for farmworkers years before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta launched the Union Farm Workers.

“Behind photos of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, there had been images of a woman who looked passionate, charismatic,” Coyle said. “She was speaking to groups of people, and had all these children with her, and I made a commitment to track her down.”

The audience welcomed one of Maria’s children, Olivia “Libby” Portugal, her youngest daughter.

“One word that describes my mother would be: strong,” Portugal said. “I am so humble and happy that my mother’s story was finally told.”

According to Coyle, the production of Adios Amor began in 2010, and years later the audience witnessed the telling of her story.

After the film, the audience had an opportunity to have a discussion with Laurie Coyle, Gilbert Padilla co-founder of the Union Farm Workers, and Olivia Portugal. Some of the comments from the audience included, “This was a beautiful story, This is a beautiful film. A strong family.”

“The film was so insightful and empowering,”  said Luis Sandoval, a member of the audience. “The different cultures that came together; it’s honestly important to know where our roots came from.”

Dr. Mary Hussain, CineCulture instructor and club adviser said she chose the film because of its many connections to the Valley.

“Many people have connections to the story, but it is important to know our history,” Hussain said.

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