Many in the agricultural community remember the American Agriculture Movement of the late 1970s, including the dramatic tractorcade to Washington, D.C. The individuals that created and executed this grassroots lobbying movement came from communities all across the nation. The American Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock, Texas, is hosting a reunion of AAM participants and their families June 12-13, 2013, to capture their stories for future generations.
The reunion, which is a partnership of the museum and the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech and numerous volunteers, will allow participants to reminisce while their memories are preserved on film and audio recordings.
The event began with an idea by Davon Cook, daughter of AAM member Dan Taylor from Ropesville, Texas. Cook explains, “Many people from my community were very active in AAM. I vaguely remember the events as a child, but more recently I would sit around the cotton gin office listening to them tell the fascinating stories of their experiences. I kept thinking someone should be recording this. Unfortunately, several of those folks have already passed on, but I want to make sure we capture it now before it’s too late.”
The video and audio memories are intended to be used for several purposes. First, the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech is an archive that preserves history for future historical research. Andy Wilkinson of the Southwest Collection has already interviewed some AAM participants.
Second, the American Museum of Agriculture hopes to build an exhibit on AAM in the coming years. They have already gathered some artifacts from West Texas participants in the movement. According to museum director Lacee Hoelting, “No museum is complete without an exhibit that highlights the spirit of the American farmer, and AMA is excited to tell the story of the American Agriculture Movement.”
And finally, Cook would like to eventually end up with a DVD of some of the footage for families to enjoy. “My dream would be to attract a documentary producer to this story. That may be shooting high. But at the very least I want to make sure our families end up with something to tell the stories to our kids.”
If you (or a family member) were involved in the American Agriculture Movement, you are invited. Taylor says, “This only works if people show up. We want it to be a fun time to see old friends and tell stories. We’ll have some suggestions for key events during 1977-1979 to cover, but the content will be largely driven by who is there.”
This reunion is targeted at participants from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, but folks are welcome from other states also. “We’re publicizing in the area close to Lubbock, but we’re also in touch with some members in other states, and we’d love for anyone else to come,” Cook said. Participants in any AAM events, even if they did not participate in the D.C. tractorcade, are encouraged to attend.
The event will start the morning of June 12 at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, with a social that evening at the American Museum of Agriculture. The second day, June 13, will be held at Dan Taylor’s farm east of Ropesville. A $40 registration fee will cover meals for the two days. More detailed information is available at: www.agriculturehistory.org/aam or by contacting Davon Cook at [email protected] or 970-344-7238. Organizers strongly encourage pre-registration. “We don’t know whether to expect 30 or 100, so please register by using the website or phone,” Cook says.