About the Author
A Seed in the Sun
By Aida Salazar
I unknowingly inherited Mami’s green thumb. Something I didn’t know I had until I moved into my home where I’ve now tended a garden for twenty years. When I first arrived, it was covered in a sea of weeds. Slowly, I noticed the way the sun fell against the plants, how much to water, what nutrients the dirt might need, and which plants are medicine and nourishment. I would call Mami often to ask her expert advice. The most important thing she told me was to listen to and talk to the plants. “Chiquelas, they hear you and need your love,” she said. Determined to make something beautiful out of the mess, I spent many earnest and back-breaking days in the garden. Being witness to the will of nature to thrive, despite my mistakes and miscalculations, proved Mami was right. Loving my plants not only helped me grow a garden but also gave me a deeper understanding of the sanctity of the earth. It became a kind of religion. It connects me to others who have a relationship to growing and harvesting plants and to those who understand the importance of this vital part of life.
When I was asked by my editor, Nancy Mercado, to write A SEED IN THE SUN, a historical fiction novel about the 1965 Delano Strike, I was immediately excited. As an activist and writer for young people I knew that the story, set in arguably one of the most important labor movements in U.S. history, had not been told in children’s fiction. Then, I asked myself, who am I to write such a book? I was not there, I grew up in the inner city and I am not a farmworker. However, after reflecting, I remembered the legacy this struggle has left and how it has taught me and generations of people how to stand up and fight for what is fair. I could see how our present-day essential farmworkers, especially women and children, continue to be exploited and how teaching children about this past might shine a light on the current struggle the UFW continues to fight. And then, I remembered my relationship to working the earth, and the legacy that runs through my own blood.
Mami’s parents, and their parents before them, were campesinos. My maternal grandfather, Chema Viramontes was a Bracero in the 1940s and 1950s. He and my family came under a US-sponsored Mexican labor program to Texas to work the fields and fill labor shortages during WWII. Abuelito Chema’s tenure as U.S. farmworker was interrupted when he had a tragic accident in the fields and was paralyzed from the waist down. He and my family were sent home to Mexico with a pension so miserable that they lived the rest of his life in extreme poverty.
These are the histories that are planted within me. I cultivate this inheritance by writing. I wrote A SEED IN THE SUN with respect and gratitude for my campesino ancestors, for the movement that fights for justice for the many wrongs against farm workers, and in honor of the sacred act of loving the earth and our dependence on all that it grows.