Melinda Wiggins, director of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF), was recently honored at the White House as one of ten Champions of Change, a weekly program created by the Obama administration to highlight leaders and innovators from different sectors across the country. In recognition of National Farmworker Awareness Week, and what would have been the eighty-fifth birthday of César Chávez on March 31 , Wiggins and nine others were recognized as “local leaders who exemplify Cesar Chavez’s core values, including service to others, knowledge, innovation, acceptance of all people, and respect for life and the environment, and who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of others throughout their community and across the nation.”
The Center for Documentary Studies’ Summer Migrant Project led to the formal founding of SAF in 1992, establishing a new model for blending advocacy with documentary expression. This year SAF is celebrating its twenty-year anniversary of working with farmworkers, students, and advocates to create a more just agricultural system.
In the video above, actress America Ferrera introduces Wiggins and the other Champions of Change, and United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar moderates a discussion between the winners. President Obama later surprised the group with an appearance to thank and congratulate them.
Click here for a recent Duke Chronicle article on SAF’s work and its origins at Duke.
Click here to read more about the Champions of Change program.