In 2014, as a film about the life of Cesar Chavez debuted, I wrote an article about his mentor, Fred Ross. In one of the great what-ifs of OC history, Ross actually got his start in El Modena in the late 1940s, helping to organize a community voting drive that saw la naranja‘s first-ever Latino elected to a political seat. But Orange County being Orange County, those same Latino leaders largely stood silent as the county power structure drove Ross out of town. Ross considered it the only failure in a career that saw him jump-start Latino power in East Los Angeles, San Jose, and beyond.
This year, the first-ever bio on the legendary organizer appeared: America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century. Author Gabriel Thompson will be in town TOMORROW at two events to talk about his book and sign and sell copies. Sponsored by the Orange County Interfaith Committee to Aid Farm Workers, Thompson will be at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ headquarters at 309 N. Rampart, Ste. M in Orange at 4 p.m
and the Irvine United Congregational Church at 4915 Alton Parkway in Irvine at 7. Added bonus: Ross’ son, Fred Ross, Jr., will be at both events as well lead a discussion of Chapter 5 in the book, specifically geared toward organizers. The lectures are FREE but you have to make a reservation through firstname.lastname@example.org. See you there, and know your OC history!