**This Post is part of a larger series of activist we should know**

When confronting the legacy of Joan Papert Preiss, who passed away last year aged 87, one is affected by a sense of the vibrant energy she brought to her many works as an activist and a member of our community, works which spanned from protests and News & Observer articles to volunteer activities and boycott tiaras. Preiss believed grassroots organization is imperative to the realization of social justice, and as the co-founder and co-chair of Triangle Friends of the United Farm Workers she became an inspiring example of this principle.

In the early 1960s, Cesar Chavez co-founded an organization in California which would come to be known as the United Farm Workers (UFW). Preiss’ organization, founded in 1973, brought farmworkers’ rights activism to the east coast, and the Triangle Friends became one of Chavez’s most important associated organizations. They worked with UFW to bring greater attention to their activities, including the national boycott of California grapes to improve farm working conditions in the 1980s and early 1990s. Preiss and her organization also drew attention to local issues such as the need for stronger pesticide regulations, the enslavement of migrant workers, and the maltreatment and lack of union representation for the farm workers of Mt Olive Pickle Company. In response to the latter issue, Preiss famously led a boycott of Mt Olive pickles with Ohio’s Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and created the “Pickle tiara” to promote the boycott. Such efforts made her indispensable to UFW, TFUFW, and FLOC, and Preiss also served as the secretary of the North Carolina Pesticide Board and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Farm Worker Ministry. She was adamant that charity is an inadequate replacement for change and that legislation needs to supported and demanded before it is properly enforced, and this was especially clear in the case of farm workers.

Preiss also lead by example. She was thoughtful and generous when it came to her community, such as when she restocked bookshelves at a local bookstore without pay to help them stay in business, volunteered at Duke Hospital to comfort triple-bypass surgery patients, or tutored Duke students. She was also fearless. Preiss’ participation in local anti-war protests in the 1990s and her practice of wearing boycott tiaras whilst grocery shopping (in the face of police interference) attest to her great courage and innovation as an activist.

Preiss was a co-chairperson of the Triangle Friends of the United Farm Workers for thirty five years, and she is survived by that organization, a loving family, many friends, and a grateful community. This concept of community – an inclusive, just community – seems implicit in both her personal and organized undertakings to support those who shared her world; her unwavering vision was one of fairness and cooperation between people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, races, genders, spiritual persuasions, and occupations. Preiss is also survived by an ongoing commitment by many to the rights, health, and prosperity of farm workers, and if we are to see her vision realized – indeed if we are to take seriously the idea that we are one community and that it is a community worth preserving – this is a commitment we must all share.

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