Migrant Rights Pioneer Ruben Contreras

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to the Ruben Contreras Webpage

Welcome to this webpage dedicated to the life and work of migrant rights pioneer Ruben Contreras, who throughout his life worked for the betterment of migrant workers' lives.

Historian Tim Hills, in the McMenamin's quarterly publication, tells of Ruben's journey from Mexico City and an elite medical school, to the U.S. and the war effort on the home front during World War II. He recounts that in 1954 Ruben joined efforts with the Oregon Council of Churches and the Migrant Ministry and went on to work with future Oregon Governor Tom McCall and a small steering committee to help birth Oregon's groundbreaking migrant civil rights legislation that passed the Oregon Legislature and became law 52 years ago. He tells how Ruben was one of 15 national founding members of the Occupational Health and Safety (O.S.H.A.) advisory committee on agricultural safety in America.

Hills describes Ruben's life work:

"Most Oregonians today won’t recognize his name and are unaware of the substance and breadth of his accomplishments. This is due in large part because Ruben Contreras never sought a spotlight for himself. Instead, over the course of four decades, he intentionally remained outside the glow of celebrity, working side by side with government officials, growers, laborers and their children. Walls came down, bridges were built. He was there in an Oregon State Capitol committee room. He was there in the migrant camps. He was there at federal hearings in Washington, D.C. He was there to translate and advocate in the local jail. ... We offer this look back at the remarkable life and work of Ruben Contreras, probably the most significant individual associated with the venerable McMinnville landmark."


1. Obituary from the News-Register newspaper.

2. Obituary from KATU Channel 2 website.

3. Pamphlet from Memorial Service, Oct, 16, 2010.

4. Click to view Ruben's Memorial Service slideshow, Oct, 16, 2010.

5. Front page News-Register news story upon Ruben's death "Longtime migrant advocate succumbs."

6. News-Register end of the year story lists Ruben as one of the "Top 10 local luminaries who died in 2010"

7. In depth historical article about the life of Ruben Contreras by Historian Tim Hills. (In PDF format beginning on page 11. To obtain a free PDF reader click here.)

8. Online archives of newspaper articles, pictures, and documents from the Ruben Contreras Papers.

9. Join Ruben's memorial Facebook page.

To leave a comment or memory about Ruben Contreras click here and type in the box below the previous comments.

posted by MigrantMentor.com at 4:49 AM 8 comments