Date in History:
1959 – Howard Van Smith, a writer for the Miami News, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on this date. Smith wrote a series of articles which “focused public notice on the deplorable conditions in a Florida migrant labor camp, [and] resulted in the provision of generous assistance for the 4,000 stranded workers in the camp, and thereby called attention to the national problem presented by 1,500,000 migratory laborers." Governor Leroy Collins, stirred by Smith’s reporting had a personal hand in helping the thousands of stranded workers living in a “Shacktown” in Immokalee in south Florida. Smith, originally from San Francisco, worked for the Orlando Sentinel before working with the Miami News covering south Dade County, just happening on this particular story. Working conditions for farm laborers continues to be a serious issue in Immokalee and other parts of rural Florida to this day, but at the time, Smith’s work directly helped thousands in desperation in the late 1950s, and brought national awareness to the issue of workers’ rights.