Valdez was raised in a family of farmworkers who were migrants in the lands of caucasian Americans. He grew up in Delano, California and was exposed to farm work at a young age. He was well educated, despite the fact that his parents were in frequent travels. He finished college and went on to see labor unions and their struggles in a stranger country (Elam Jr. 3). In 1965, he started to participate in a strike organized by a union of farmers called the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (Elam Jr. 3). He was an apprentice then at the San Francisco Mime Troupe when he convinced leaders of the labor union to create a theater company of their own (Elam Jr. 3). He was successful in convincing UFWOC leaders and staged various plays that expressed the sentiments of the union as well as a cultural expression of Chicanos as a minority group. Themes of the play involved struggles of Mexican farmers, meager income in farm work, among others (Elam Jr. 3).
In 1965, Valdez founded El Teatro Campesino, which was worldly-renowned (Huerta 69). Actors who were part of his newly-organized theater group were farmers, who were eager to expose the injustices they suffered in the fields while actively urging other farmers to join their cause, too (Huerta 69). Two years later, Valdez’s theater group abandoned the common portrayal of agricultural issues and began to explore other issues concerning the Chicanos or the Mexicans (Huerta 70). ...Show more