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Guadalupe Gamboa

United Farm Workers, MEChA

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Guadalupe Gamboa was born in Edinburgh, Texas. His parents, refugees from the Mexican revolutionary struggles, had settled in the Rio Grande area and made their living as farm workers.  In the late 1940s, when Gamboa was in the first grade, the family moved to the Yakima Valley in Central Washington after hearing that there was good money to be made in the fields “El Norte.” Living initially in labor camps, the Gamboas worked the Washington crops. Throughout his school years, Lupe Gamboa would work in the fields with his family.

After graduating from Sunnyside High School, Gamboa went to Yakima Valley Community College (YVCC) where he learned about the newly formed United Farm Workers (UFW). There he met Tomas Villanueva, who would join him in the work of building a farm workers’ movement in Washington State. In 1967, he was admitted to the University of Washington. That first year was difficult. He was one of only a handful of Latino students on that huge campus. But the next year there would be more.

At UW Gamboa became active in the Chicano movement.  He was part group of Chicano students that founded the University of Washington chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA).  While at UW Gamboa led a campaign to support the UFW in their Grape Boycott, both on campus and in the Seattle community.

After graduating, Gamboa devoted himself to the farm worker movement. With Villanueva he started the UFW Coop in Toppenish, helped coordinate the 1970 hop strikes in Yakima and built the early foundations for the UFW in Washington State.

After earning a law degree and working for the national UFW in the mid 1970s, he returned to Washington in the 1980s to help launch the United Farm Workers of Washington State and win the Chateau Ste. Michelle strike.

Guadalupe Gamboa discussed his activist history in an interview with Trevor Griffey and Sharon Walker. To the right are streaming-video excerpts of the interview.

Anne O’Neill conducted an earlier interview with Gamboa in 2003. Here is the transcript.