College of Law

Cannon Lecture Series

"Organizing the Unorganizable: Labor, Migration, and Human Rights"

Baldemar Velasquez

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 | Noon-1 p.m.
McQuade Law Auditorium

There is a widespread consensus across party lines in the United States that there is an urgent need for immigration reform. Yet, discussions on the topic often occur in a vacuum, lacking an acknowledgment of how U.S. foreign policy perpetuates migration and the larger impact policy has on communities in the United States. Baldemar Velasquez will be speaking on the intersections of labor, migration, and human rights, examining the current immigration system in the country and how it exacerbates vulnerabilities in immigrant populations, looking specifically at migrant workers and undocumented workers in informal labor spaces and their families.

Velasquez is the founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), AFL-CIO, a union of migrant farmworkers in the eastern United States. FLOC has become a grass-roots leader in the immigrant rights movement, organizing the immigrant community to defend their rights, building a broad network in the larger society to support immigrants in realizing their rights, and advocating policies to ensure the human, civil, and working rights of immigrants. FLOC started a change in the agricultural industry's structure through three-way negotiations among the major parties involved in agricultural production.

Velasquez has decades of experience in organizing farm workers and immigrant communities to create systemic change. He is a highly respected national and international leader not only in the farm labor movement, but also in the Latino and immigrant rights movements. He has been recognized by many labor, government, academic, and progressive organizations, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, a Development of People Award by the Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Catholic Conference, an Aguila Azteca Award by the Government of México, and an Honorary Doctor of Social Science by Bowling Green State University and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by The University of Toledo.

About the lecture

This free, public lecture is part of the Cannon Lecture Series that was established in 1980 to honor former Toledo attorney Joseph A. Cannon. The series hosts nationally known individuals who explore both the humanistic dimensions and limitations of our legal system. For a list of guest speakers and lecture videos from previous years, please visit our past speakers page.


McQuade Law Auditorium is on the main level of the Law Center — located at 1825 West Rocket Drive, immediately inside the UToledo West Entrance off of Secor Road and south of Bancroft Street. Free guest parking is available for this event, but only in designated spaces within Parking Area 12W. See the parking attendant to be directed to the designated area. Metered parking is also available within marked spaces facing the Center for Performing Arts. Metered rates can be found at the payment kiosk or the ParkUToledo website.

Last Updated: 2/14/24