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Co-Founder of PCUN and Farmworker Housing Development Corp.
October 7, 1949 to September 13, 1995
Cipriano was born in Delano, California and raised in a farmworker family. As a youth, he worked in the table grape and other harvests. He dedicated his entire life to the cause of unionizing famworkers as the only effective means to permanently improve the living and working conditions in farm labor and to give a voice to workers in their workplaces.
Even while still a high school student, Cipriano joined the Chicano Movement, co-founded a community periodical called La Fuerza, and volunteered as a draft counselor for young men who faced obligatory military service in Viet Nam. From 1972 to 1975, Cipriano worked for the United Farm Workers union, organizing in fields and in Grape Boycott campaigns.
Cipriano arrived in Eugene, Oregon in 1975 to study at the University of Oregon but soon after, he transferred to Colegio César Chávez in Mount Angel where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1977. Also in that year, he co-founded the Willamette Valley Immigration Project, established to counter the Immigration Service’s abuses in the Mexican community. The Project is today known as the Service Center for Farmworkers serving members of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Oregon’s farmworker union. In 1985, Cipriano was a co-founder of PCUN and was PCUN President from 1988 to 1992 and from April 1995 until his death. In 1991, Cipirano was a co-founder of FHDC and later worked as FHDC’s community organizer.
Like César Chávez, with whom Cipriano worked closely until César’s death in 1993, Cipriano demonstrated Sí Se Puede spirit. Cipriano played a principal role in the founding, growth and successes of both FHDC and PCUN, making them strong vehicles for farmworker self-determination. His vision lives on and continues to guide FHDC today.
Cipriano is survived by his widow, Vickie Valdéz, two step-daughters, Breeanna y Xola, his son, César Vito Emiliano, and nine siblings.
Cipriano’s grave is in Delano.