An eyewitness to the brutal immigration raids during the 1950’s, Bill Chandler, a California native, has been continuously involved in supporting the rights of immigrant workers for more than 50 years. He began with union organizing and community activism in the 1960s in California.
He participated in the 1965 grape strike/boycott effort and in Texas helped organize cross-border actions with Mexican and American workers to support the United Farm Workers in their efforts to improve conditions, even in the face of police harassment and brutality.
Since then, Bill’s organizing focus has been primarily with the lowest paid workers in the South, including farm workers, hospitality, health care, public and immigrant workers. Beginning in 1989 in Mississippi, he organized the aggressive Mississippi Alliance of State Employees/Communications Workers of America. He helped start the successful effort by some 5,000 casino workers to organize into UNITE HERE in Mississippi.
Responding to attacks on immigrant workers and discrimination against Latino school children in Mississippi, Bill brought a group of immigrants, labor, civil rights, religious, social and human rights activists and organizations together to form MIRA in November of 2000. Initially an organization of volunteers, the MIRA has grown into a major force with a staff of organizers, an attorney and advocates, led by a board made up of African American, Muslim and Latino activists in Mississippi.
Bill has six successful adult children and seven grandchildren. He is married to L. Patricia Ice, the MIRA Legal Project Director. They live in Jackson with their two dogs and two cats.