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Guest DJ Agustín Lira: Struggles And Hope

Agustín Lira (left) and Patricia Wells Solórzano.
Courtesy of the artist
Agustín Lira (left) and Patricia Wells Solórzano.

The farm-worker movement that took place in the agricultural fields of California in the early 1960s inspired a generation of Latino activists around the country — and with them, musicians and artists of all kinds.

One such singer was a young Agustín Lira, who helped organize farm workers not with speeches and meetings, but with music and theater (teatro). Side by side with playwright and director Luis Valdez, Lira used agitprop theater and Mexican and American folk songs forms to spread the word about strikes and boycotts and to encourage workers to join the fledgling farm workers' union.

History has justified the vision of labor leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, while the music created around their movement has formed the backbone of Lira's five-plus decades in music.

Along with Patricia Wells Solórzano, Lira and his trio, Alma, are continuing la lucha (the fight) for social justice on the road and on their new album, Songs Of Struggle And Hope. A quick glance around the country these days will show there are still plenty of wrongs to protest — and a good protest could always use some great songs.

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Felix Contreras
Felix Contreras is co-creator and co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.