Liza Hirsch

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Liza Hirsch Medina


Liza Hirsch, the daughter of communist activists Fred Hirsch and Virginia Hirsch is the wife of Eliseo Medina. She was formerly married to Paul Du Brul.

Background

Liza Hirsch was introduced to the radical left at a very young age. At her mother Virginia Hirsch's funeral, her father Fred Hirsch described how, at nine-years-old, Liza would assist her mother with "movement leaflets in San Jose."[1] Along with her parents, Liza Hirsch went to Delano, California at the age of twelve to work for the Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez. Her parents moved onto San Jose, California a year later, leaving Liza to live with the Chavez family. Unlike Chavez's own children, young Liza was "committed to la causa at an early age," even giving up the cello after Chavez told her that "outside interests would interfere." While watching the Democratic National Convention together in 1968, Cesar Chavez told Liza that she would "grow up to be a lawyer for the union," which she took to heart.[2]

Illegals Campaign

Eliseo Medina, Jerry Cohen, Liza Hirsch Medina via Farmworker Movement Online Gallery
With the help of United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez launched the "Illegals Campaign,"[3] described as a "central piece of strategy which saw the United Farm Workers (UFW) direct members to report the presence of undocumented immigrants in the fields and turn them in to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) the agency which preceded Customs and Border Protection (CBP)."[4] Cesar Chavez put Liza Hirsch in charge of the Illegals Campaign, also described by some sources as the "campaign against Illegals," in 1974 before she was to go to law school. At age 19, Liza "distributed forms printed in triplicate to all union offices and directed staff members to document the presence of illegal immigrants in the fields and report them to the INS."

Influence of Cesar Chavez

2009 Ventura County Star article features Liza Hirsch Medina. This photo is Liza with her two children heading to see Obama inauguration.
In a 2009 article about President Obama's inauguration, Liza Hirsch was quoted as saying that meeting Cesar Chavez at age ten had a powerful impact on her life. “He’s why I’ve done everything I’ve done,” she said. Described as a "labor lawyer," Hirsch explained that she would like her family to attend the swearing-in ceremony for Hilda Solis, former Labor Secretary. The article mentioned that her husband Eliseo Medina "advised the Obama campaign on Latino issues..."[5]

United Farm Workers

Eliseo and Liza Hirsch Medina in 2010 at White House state dinner in honor of Mexican President Felipe Calderone
In 1978, the United Farm Workers's first board member left. This was Eliseo Medina, who had been with the union since the early 1960s as a farmworker from Delano. Eliseo had many successes as an organizer in the boycott cities and in the field offices. He was also a successful fundraiser and negotiator. During this same period, Jim Drake, who had been with the farmworker movement since its beginning in 1962, also resigned. Jerry Cohen, the union’s general counsel since 1966, left the union in 1979. Then Padilla left. Marshall Ganz and Jessica Govea left in 1981. At the beginning of the strike in 1965, Marshall came from the Mississippi voter-registration projects and Jessica Govea and her family had been involved with CSO from the 1950s. Her father was a very dedicated unionist, a CSO member from Bakersfield. Jessica was still a teenager when she came to volunteer. Later she worked with Padilla in the service center along with Bonnie Chatfield. Later Marshall and Jessica became a couple and worked the boycott in Montreal and other cities. Both worked tirelessly in every effort and organized many political campaigns. When these leaders left, there was a great loss of their expertise in organizing and the passion that they had for farmworkers. During these years, much attention was being placed on the administration of the union, and there were various organizing efforts in the Salinas and Imperial valleys in the vegetable industry. Cesar also become interested in federal funding for some special projects. When the strike ended in the Imperial Valley after the death of Rufino Contreras, the Padillas returned to the Washington, D.C. area in February of 1979 to conduct the Chiquita banana boycott, on which they worked for a year and a half. They returned to California in June 1980 and were sent to the Coachella Valley to conduct the negotiations with the David Freedman contract. They also negotiated other citrus contracts in Blythe and Coachella.

During the organizing efforts in the Coachella Valley in the summer of 1980, it became apparent that many members were dissatisfied with the inefficient administration of the RFK Medical Plan, the lack of focus on servicing our contracts, and other worker related issues. Disagreements occurred at the executive board level because of the change of direction that Chavez was taking at that time. Cesar Chavez became interested in the “game,” in the use of “mind control” and in developing “young minds that were not corrupted.” He started a school to train these “young minds” to negotiate contracts and to organize.

Unfortunately, none of these people were successful in negotiations of labor contracts. The staff members who were successful in negotiating contracts were David Burciaga, Ann Smith, Marion Steeg, Eliseo Medina, Gretchen Laue, Jim Drake, Ruth Shy, and Liza Hirsch Medina.[6]

Married to Du Bruhl

Paul Du Brul (1938-87) was a New York City democratic socialist activist. Du Brul died of cardiac arrest after a life-long struggle with cystic fibrosis. His two best friends, Joe Conason and Jack Newfield, wrote his obituary in the Village Voice. His son is Sascha DuBrul, or Sascha Scatter, the co-founder of The Icarus Project blog. He was married to Liza Hirsch.

Du Brul's friend, Councilwoman Ruth W. Messinger, Democrat of Manhattan, said, "Paul fought for social justice every day of his life. He saved thousands of New York City children from the scourge of lead poisoning."[7]

References