Multi-American

How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: A worker on Workers' Day, downtown

American flags and wide-brimmed hats for sale at a May Day immigrant rights rally in downtown L.A., May 1, 2011
American flags and wide-brimmed hats for sale at a May Day immigrant rights rally in downtown L.A., May 1, 2011 Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

One of several May Day rallies taking place in Los Angeles today is an immigrant rights march downtown this afternoon, the latest in a series of annual large rallies organized by immigrant rights advocates each May 1 since 2006, the year of the so-called “Great American Boycott.” 

A constant presence during these marches are the people who are work them, not as organizers but as entrepreneurs. They are almost exclusively immigrants, business-minded individuals who come to the rallies with their hot dog and paleta carts or coolers loaded with sliced fruit to cater to hungry protesters, who arrive toting wide-brimmed hats to sell to those wanting to fend off the sun, or who bring along a load of miniature plastic American flags for the patriotically inclined.

During last year's May Day immigrant rights march in Los Angeles, which drew about 4,000 people downtown, I snapped several portraits of these enterprising workers who never let up. Because they are in the land of opportunity for a reason.

As one woman selling hot dogs last year, then recently dismissed from her clothing factory job for lack of work authorization, told me: ”I’m here working, but I’m also supporting the march.”

Count on seeing many others like her during the rallies today.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading Multi-American? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC