This presentation is based on the stories of five women from the Casa Grande Valley towns (Eloy, Randolph, Coolidge, Casa Grande, and the Gila Reservation) who, despite their busy and oppressive lives of work, family, poor housing, etc., managed to become politicized, self-educated activists. They rebuilt their lives and created lively communities even after “the cotton machine” robbed them of job opportunities. This presentation is a tribute to these resilient women and can feature a visit from at least one of the women or their “daughters”/”relatives” so as to add further depth to the discussion.
Geta LeSeur is a professor of English and Africana studies at The University of Arizona, specializing in African, Caribbean, and African American literature. Her book Not All Okies Are White: The Lives of Black Cotton Pickers in Arizona was selected as one of the best books of the Southwest for 2000. LeSeur aims to present history not as a litany of dates, battles, and politicians, but as the stories of those who lived before us – the stories of ordinary individuals facing the challenges and triumphs of life.