A civil rights specialist, a farm owner, a law professor, a former migrant worker, a Hispanic medical interpreter and human rights activist, will serve on a local panel Oct. 13 to discuss the contributions migrant and seasonal workers have made to local economy — their successes and challenges.
The discussion is part of closing night events at the current Legends exhibit that opened last month at the History Center of Traverse City on Sixth Street. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
The evening starts at 7 p.m. at the center and includes exhibits highlighting the area’s migrant Hispanic population and the Leo and Carmen Ocanas family on Old Mission Peninsula. The Ocanas were the first area migrant workers to purchase their own farm in the region.
The panel will be moderated by Melissa Claramunt, a Michigan Department of Civil Rights specialist.
Panelists are: farm owner Jim Bardenhagen; Steve Morse, retired Notre Dame law professor and member of the Leelanau Co. League of Women Voters' Farm Labor Task Force; Ana Garcia, a former migrant worker who now works for the TBAISD and Michigan State University migrant programs; and Gladys Munoz, who received the Traverse City Human Rights Commission 2013 Sarah Hardy Humanitarian Award for her years of service to the Hispanic community as a medical interpreter and civil rights advocate.
The Legends exhibit on John Parsons and Frank Stulen still is on display. Parsons was founder of the Parsons Corp. a helicopter rotor blade manufacturer located in Traverse City from 1943-1968. Stulen was the company’s engineer.
They are known as the founders of the Second Industrial Revolution for inventing numerical control, which changed machining from an imprecise craft to an exact science and led to automation of both machine tools and tool processes. Numeric control also was the forerunner of modern digital computer-computer control systems.
Parsons Corp. employed 700 people at its peak.
The original “Legends of the Grand Traverse Region: Community Out of Diversity” project debuted last fall with Michigan Humanities Council funding.
Based at the History Center, Legends is coordinated by representatives from several area organizations, including: the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society, Northwest Lower Michigan Women's History Project, Temple Beth El, Hispanic Apostolate of the Diocese of Gaylord, Traverse City Human Rights Commission, instructor Jim Press of Northwestern Michigan College's History Department, Cindy Winslow of the Grand Traverse Tribe's Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center, and the Traverse City Human Rights Commission.