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ASU professor wins prestigious labor history book award

portrait of Matt Garcia
June 18, 2013

Matt Garcia has been awarded the prestigious Philip Taft Labor History Book Award for his book, "From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement."

Garcia is the director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, and director of the Comparative Border Studies Program at Arizona State University. His book explores the formation of the United Farm Workers union and the grassroots activists who created it.

Under Chavez, the union led the grape boycott of the late 1960's, the most successful consumer boycott in U.S. history. The book has been hailed by journalist and author David Harris as “...a great service in not only chronicling...what once promised to be an unprecedented revolution in the organization of agri-business and the status of its workers, but also in telling this story with all its shadows, flaws and shortfalls included.”

The Philip Taft Labor History Book Award is sponsored by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) in cooperation with the Labor and Working-Class History Association at Duke University. The ILR seeks to inform national and international employment and labor policy, and improve working lives. The history association is a collective of historians, labor educators and working-class activists who seek to promote public awareness of labor and working-class history.

The award is named after the noted labor historian Philip Taft (1902-1976). Taft was one of the nation's foremost historians of the American labor movement. He is recognized by scholars and trade union leaders as a chief source on the growth of American unions. A member of the Brown University faculty for 31 years, Taft retired in 1968, but continued his research until 1975.

Prior to his service with ASU, Garcia taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Oregon and Brown University. Garcia was the outreach director and co-primary investigator for the Bracero Archive Project, which was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in 2008, and the recipient of the Best Public History Award by the National Council for Public History in 2009-2010. He was also named co-winner for the best book in oral history by the Oral History Association in 2003 and received an Honorable Mention from the American Studies Association for his first book, "A World of Its Own: Race, Labor and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970."

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

Beatriz Kravetz,
School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies