Jim Drake

Jim Drake

Jim Drake picketing in front of Irvin Goldberg’s packing shed, Delano, 1966. Photo by Emmon Clarke.

Drake (1937-2001) was born in Ohio. He grew up in Oklahoma until he was ten when he moved to the Coachella Valley, California, with his family. They lived in the farmworker town of Thermal where his father was a teacher at the local public school, teaching the migrant children, while his mother managed the school cafeteria.

Drake studied philosophy at Occidental College and then graduated from the New York’s Union Theological Seminary in 1962. In April of 1962, the same time that César Chávez left Oxnard to move to Delano, Drake moved back to California and joined the California Migrant Ministry, an ecumenical organization representing Christian Churches of different denominations, and started organizing farmworkers. In 1964 he started working as a staff for the Farm Workers Association (FWA), working under Chávez.

César Chávez and Jim Drake talking with a woman at a protest of Governor Reagan’s tuition policy, Sacramento, 1967. Photo by Emmon Clarke.

César Chávez and Jim Drake (front row) clap during a performance of Teatro Campesino at Negrito Hall, Delano, ca. 1966. Photo by John Kouns.

During his years working with farmworkers, he served as César Chávez’s assistant, organized the union’s first co-op., directed its first boycott, and became a leading organizer in California, Texas, Arizona, and New York. In 1978, he left the farmworker movement and moved to Mississippi where he founded the first interracial organization, the United Woodcutters Association. Later in his life, he worked in Boston where he launched the Boston Interfaith Organization.


Tom & Ethel Bradley Center
California State University, Northridge

18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330
Phone: (818) 677-1200 / Contact Us