COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL: Tomato Pickers of Immokalee, Florida from the Florida Photograph Album Collection

Yvette Yurubi

A Pick of the Week from

Special Collections of the UM Libraries

By Yvette Yurubi

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Written and photographed by Shiho Fukada, Tomato Pickers of Immokalee, Florida is a stunning piece of photojournalism held in the Florida Photograph Album Collection. Produced in 2003, the piece exhibits a series of images that narrate the hardships experienced by immigrants who live and work as tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida. Fukada explored the remote and transient life of the town, comprised mostly of immigrants from Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala, who set out early each day hoping for work, and performing the jobs that no one else will take.

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Fukada also went into the crowded homes of workers, often affording rent by sharing bedrooms with as many as nine or ten others. With few establishments or recreational services in town, workers have limited options for spending their free time, leading to rampant alcoholism and high crime rates of which the author describes as one of the highest in the United States.
Conditions have slowly improved for workers since this publication was originally released, due in large part to the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which formed in 1993, and has fought relentlessly to improve wages and conditions for these workers.

COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.