¡Si, se puede! Pearl McGivney SL (Loretto President 2012-2019) left a legacy of commitment and compassion in Florida
In the early 1970s Pearl McGivney traveled to California to work with
nonviolent organizer, activist and labor leader César Chávez. Pearl opened a legal aid office in Salinas. She fought for justice alongside farmworkers, helping to organize boycotts and strikes.
After several years, César asked Pearl to take up organizing work in Florida. Once on the ground, she found that families’ basic needs overrode the push to unionize and she founded Centro Campesino in Auburndale. Centro Campesino’s goal, according to Alicia Zapata CoL, who worked with Pearl in Florida for 28 years, was to “listen to the people and respond to their needs.”
The center hosted a food bank, started a housing committee, assisted women who were victims of domestic violence, provided aid with immigration issues. They organized dinners at churches where locals could socialize with migrant families and arranged Mexican dance classes for youth to help preserve their culture.
¡Si, se puede!
The ¡Si, se puede! (Yes, we can!) sign hanging on Pearl’s office door during her presidency was a reminder of the work done, and the work still to do.
As this issue went to press, Pearl died at the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, KY. More than 100 people, many who knew her from her work in California and Florida, attended the online wake and funeral.