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David Bacon

David Bacon

A former union organizer for 30 years, David Bacon has photographed documentary projects about labor, the global economy, war and migration, and the struggle for human rights in countries around the world including Iraq, the Philippines, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States.

The Social Justice Photography of David Bacon.”


About his work David has written:

I saw my first immigration raid long before I became a photographer. I was an organizer for the United Farm Workers in the Coachella Valley. One morning I drove out to a grove of date palms to talk with the palmeros working high in the trees. As I pulled my old white Valiant (the only kind of car the union had) down a row between the palms, I saw a green Border Patrol van. The workers I’d talked with the night before in the union hall were all staring at the ground, handcuffed behind their backs.

I felt helpless to stop the inexorable process in which they were loaded into the van. I chased it to the holding center in El Centro, two hour's drive south, but then stood outside the barbed wire, wondering what I could do to help the families left behind. It was one of the watershed experiences of a lifetime. There were other immigration raids during the time I worked for the UFW, often and by no coincidence during the times workers were organizing.

It was easy to see how detentions and deportations are not just violations of human rights, and cause devastating pain for families, but are a weapon in a war to keep immigrants from organizing.

I carry my camera as a tool to help stop this abuse, and to take photographs that will help people organize. Part of the effort is to give personality and presence to the people involved.

His latest book, In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte (COLEF / UC Press, 2017) includes over 300 photographs and 12 oral histories of farm workers. Other books include The Right to Stay Home (Beacon Press, 2013), and Illegal People (Beacon Press, 2008), which discuss alternatives to forced migration and the criminalization of migrants. Communities Without Borders (Cornell/ILR Press, 2006) includes stories from transnational migrant communities, and The Children of NAFTA (UC Press, 2004) is an account of worker resistance on the U.S.-Mexico border in the wake of the trade agreement.

Pieces by David Bacon:


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