Donna Haber

Donna Haber

Donna Haber and Bill Esher working in El Malcriado’s office, ca.1966. Photo by Emmon Clarke.

During the fall semester of 1965, Donna Haber, a student from Berkeley, was told by one of her professors about the grape strike that started in Delano. The professor asked a group of students if they wanted to go to the headquarters of the strike in Delano. Six students, including Haber, accepted the invitation and traveled to Delano. They spent the weekend, and several more weekends, sleeping in sleeping bags in the Pink House. Haber joined the mobile picket line to try to get workers to join the strike. 

By the end of the fall semester, Haber dropped school and moved to Delano. She worked first as Chávez’s secretary, sleeping on the floor at Dolores Huerta’s house. She got romantically involved with Luis Valdez and they moved into a small apartment together. She worked for El Teatro Campesino as a business manager, “planning performances, setting up fundraising events,  and doing all the paperwork,” she wrote.

Luis Valdez (left) and Donna Haber are talking to Cesar Chávez (out of frame), Delano, 1966. Photo by Emmon Clarke.

Donna Haber smiles as she removes a sheet of paper from a typewriter. She is working at El Malcriado's office in Delano. Donna Haber sonrie mientras quita una hoja de papel de la máquina de escruibir. Ella trabaja en la oficina de El Malcriado.

Donna Haber working at the office of El Malcriado, Delano, ca. 1966

Donna Haber smiles as she removes a sheet of paper from a typewriter. She is working at El Malcriado’s office in Delano, 1966. She and El Teatro left the union in 1967 and opened a farmworker cultural center in Del Rey. The building they used for El Teatro also had children’s art classes taught by Kerry Ohta. Besides doing administrative duties, Haber had her first opportunity to perform with El Teatro in Luis Valdez’s play The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa in San Francisco and later in an amateur theatre festival at the University of Nance in France. 

She decided to stay in Europe and settled in London. She reestablished ties with the UFW when she was in London and volunteered for the boycott campaign in England. She lobbied longshoremen’s unions in Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands, asking them to “black” (refuse to unload) table grapes shipped from the strike region.


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