The Life of Migrant Civil Rights Pioneer Ruben Contreras
IN MEMORY OF
RUBEN CONTRERAS, SR.
Welcome to this website dedicated to the life and work of migrant civil rights pioneer Ruben Contreras, who throughout his life worked for the betterment of migrant workers' lives.
Historian Tim Hills, in a McMenamin's publication, tells of Ruben's journey from Mexico City and an elite medical school, to the U.S. and the war effort on the home front during World War II. He recounts that in 1954 Ruben joined efforts with the Oregon Council of Churches and the Migrant Ministry and went on to work with future Oregon Governor Tom McCall and a small steering committee to help birth Oregon's groundbreaking migrant civil rights legislation that passed the Oregon Legislature and became law 63 years ago. He tells how Ruben was one of 15 national founding members of the Occupational Health and Safety (O.S.H.A.) advisory committee on agricultural safety in America. READ ARTICLE
"Most Oregonians today won’t recognize his name and are unaware of the substance and breadth of his accomplishments. This is due in large part because Ruben Contreras never sought a spotlight for himself. Instead, over the course of four decades, he intentionally remained outside the glow of celebrity, working side by side with government officials, growers, laborers and their children. Walls came down, bridges were built. He was there in an Oregon State Capitol committee room. He was there in the migrant camps. He was there at federal hearings in Washington, D.C. He was there to translate and advocate in the local jail. ... We offer this look back at the remarkable life and work of Ruben Contreras, probably the most significant individual associated with the venerable McMinnville landmark." Historian Tim Hills from McMenamins publication.