Adios Amor — The Search for Maria Moreno

By Dan Clendenin

Adios Amor — The Search for Maria Moreno (2019)

Maria Moreno (1920–1988) was so many things. An American citizen born in Texas. A farm worker in California’s Central Valley who picked the food for our tables but who could barely feed her own family. Mother of twelve children. And a passionate and fearless activist-organizer for farm worker rights. Maria Moreno was also lost to history until the director-producer Laurie Coyle discovered a cache of hundreds of photographs of Moreno when she was making a film about Cesar Chavez. Why hadn’t she ever heard of her, she wondered? In this one-hour documentary, Coyle recovers Moreno’s forgotten story. She hired a private investigator. She made a public service announcement on Latino radio. She interviewed historians of the labor movement. But it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The movie is largely driven by the black and white photographs, and brief interviews with the photographers George Ballis and Ernest Lowe, who were fascinated by her unusual combination of personal story and political activism. Eventually, Moreno became the first woman farm worker hired to be a union representative. After gaining some notoriety, though, she disappeared. Where did she go, and why? When her union position was terminated, she moved to the Arizona desert and became a Pentecostal pastor and minister to the poor. This movie originally aired on PBS September 27, 2019. For a similar PBS documentary about another forgotten woman who worked behind the scenes for social justice, see Dolores [Huerta].

Dan Clendenin: dan@journeywithjesus.net

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