A memorial for the deportees

From Sue Kern at KFCF in Fresno:

Woody Guthrie’s song, “Deportees,” about the plane that caught fire over Los Gatos canyon, was actually about a crash that occurred in Coalinga, in Fresno County. The 28 Mexican nationals who died were being deported back to Mexico after working in the California fields, and the news accounts at the time reported the names of the INS agents and flight crew – but the deportees weren’t named. Hence Woody’s song.

One of our local authors, Tim Z Hernandez, discovered where the unmarked grave was located while researching another book he was writing, and he talked with Lance Canales (one of our treasured local musicians – blues guitar and native flute, of Lance Canales and the Flood). Together they came up with this project to find out the names of all the deportees, contact their families, and put up a memorial headstone to commemorate them. They’re working with the Fresno Catholic Diocese and specifically Carlos Rascon, director of their cemetery, trying to raise $10,000 for the project. The Woody Guthrie Foundation and Nora Guthrie are co-sponsoring it.

The benefit takes place at Fulton 55 (875 Divisadero Street, Fresno) this coming Thursday, April 18th, starting at 7:30 pm, and will feature Lance Canales and the Flood, Jemmy Bluestein, and Conjunto Califas, as well as Tim Hernandez reading his poetry. Lance has recorded a version of “Deportees” that includes a reading of the names of all the dead. 

Learn more about the concert and the history here.  Hear Woody’s poem sung by son Arlo Guthrie, here.  For tickets, call 1-877-987-6487, or go here.

If you can’t make it to the concert but want to contribute to the Memorial Headstone, donations can be mailed to Saint Peter’s Cemetery, 264 N. Blythe Ave., Fresno, Ca 93706. On the memo part of the check please indicate: Holy Cross Memorial. All donations are tax deductible.

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