Animo. It’s one of those Spanish words that has no direct English translation. It’s a verb, a noun, an adjective, depending on who I ask. “Strength.” “Fearless.” “Go for it.” Whatever it means, there sure is plenty of it here at Campo de Justicia. Last night, hundreds – yes, hundreds – of farmworkers trekked out to 40 Acres in Delano to find out more about the union. Heads nodded as workers recognized each other’s indignities. After a grueling day that began in the fields at 6:30 this morning, here they were 12, 13, 14 hours later cheering each other on with “si se puede” chants and lingering over enchiladas as they filled out union volunteer cards. These are the hardest working people in America vowing to
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work harder so they can have just the basics – a living wage, health insurance, bathrooms. The room oozed animo. “Enthusiasm.” “Power.” In fact, animo is everywhere here. You can read it in the smiles of the 40 Camp Justice activists who traveled from all over the country as they rise at 5:00 to meet workers in the fields. Many of these campers are professional organizers with other unions, who volunteered to come to California to do more of what they do at work. Others are long-standing UFW leaders, people who, decades ago, helped create the very union we continue to build, leaders who never give up and never get tired. Others represent the next generation of social change leaders, students in the teens and twenties overflowing with hope and possibility. Others are people like me, caught in between life’s responsibilities and see a unique opportunity to touch lives. Animo blankets our camp. “Invigorated.” “Enraged.” “Indignant.” You can hear the animo in the empowering solidarity claps from the army of UFW organizers who are working farm by farm to move workers toward a union election. You can see it in the dedication the organization’s board members bring. Week Two of Camp Justice coincided with UFW’s quarterly board meeting. We infected each other. Animo seems highly contagious. In the end, I learned animo isn’t something explained; it’s something experienced. And there is plenty of it to feel here at Camp Justice.