VOCES ON PBS: Adios Amor - The Search For Maria Moreno
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 / Not available on demand
Before Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, there was Maria Moreno. The discovery of lost photographs taken more than 50 years ago sparks the search for a hero who history forgot: Maria Moreno, a migrant mother who sacrificed everything but her 12 kids in the passionate pursuit of justice for farmworkers. Her legacy was buried – until now.
“Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno,” is a film by Laurie Coyle.
Haunted by a personal tragedy and blessed with a gift for oratory, Maria rolled up her sleeves, collected signatures and electrified audiences. Elected to represent her fellow Mexican American, Filipino, Black and Okie farmworkers, she became the first female farmworker in America to be hired as a union organizer.
Filmmaker Coyle first saw photos of Maria Moreno 20 years ago, when she was the lead researcher and associate producer for the groundbreaking documentary "The Fight in the Fields — Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle." While searching for images of Chavez, she came across hundreds of photographs of a migrant mother organizing with her children at her side.
Far from snapshots, these were master images taken by the leading photographer of the farmworker movement, George Ballis. But aside from the well-known UFW leader Dolores Huerta, women farmworkers were usually anonymous and relegated to the background in press coverage. Coyle wondered about the woman in the photographs, but it would be another two decades before she could return to the story.
"When my search began, I didn’t know what I would find or whether Maria Moreno would still be living,” Coyle said. “With a measure of luck and a lot of work, I traced her life and legacy.”
From California’s great Central Valley to the Arizona desert and U.S.-Mexico border, the search for Maria yields a deeply human drama about Mexican American farmworkers living in dire poverty at a time of unprecedented abundance, whose faith, family values and working-class culture sustained them.
Featuring photographers, reporters, radio producers, labor activists, historians and Maria’s children, “Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno” pays tribute to the people whose hard work feeds the nation and celebrates the courageous woman who told their story to the world.
This film is no longer available to stream on demand
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Director/Producer: Laurie Coyle. Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, the acclaimed PBS documentary series VOCES features the best of Latino arts, culture and history and shines a light on current issues that impact Latino Americans.