Happy Birthday Cesar.
Cesar Estrada Chavez would of been 82 today. He is buried up the road from me in Keene, CA which I drive by every time I go east. He left this world on April 23,1993.
I marched with him. I took shit from the cops and rednecks for him and the cause of Farmworkers being paid a living wage. I had vegetables thrown at me, I had obscenities screamed at me for my belief in Cesar and his mission to get a living wage and decent working conditions for farm workers. I have picked fruit. I know what it’s like to be a farm worker.
I would do it all again. In a NY minute. From Las Culturas:
On April 29, 1993, Cesar Estrada Chavez was honored in death by those he led in life. More than 50,000 mourners came to honor the charismatic labor leader at the site of his first public fast in 1968 and his last in 1988, the United Farm Workers Delano Field Office at “Forty Acres.”
It was the largest funeral of any labor leader in the history of the U.S. They came in caravans from Florida to California to pay respect to a man whose strength was in his simplicity.
Farm workers, family members, friends and union staff took turns standing vigil over the plain pine coffin which held the body of Cesar Chavez. Among the honor guard were many celebrities who had supported Chavez throughout his years of struggle to better the lot of farmworkers throughout America.
Many of the mourners had marched side by side with Chavez during his tumultuous years in the vineyards and farms of America. For the last time, they came to march by the side of the man who had taught them to stand up for their rights, through nonviolent protest and collective bargaining.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney, who celebrated the funeral mass, called Chavez “a special prophet for the worlds’ farm workers.” Pall bearers, including crews of these workers, Chavez children and grandchildren, then carried their fallen leader, resting at last, from the Memorial Park to Forty Acres.
The death of Chavez marked an era of dramatic changes in American agriculture. His contributions would be eroded, and others would have to shoulder the burden of his work. But, Cesar Chavez, who insisted that those who labor in the earth were entitled to share fairly in the rewards of their toil, would never be forgotten.
We can not forget him…ever. We also can never forget the farm workers and what they deal with to make a living…ever. You might not understand why this is important to me, but I hope you get the gist of it.
No one works harder for a living than farm workers, and they do it for pennies. They still die in the fields because of heat stroke or because some asshole farmer had a field sprayed while the workers were working there, every year here in the San Joaquin valley. It gets over 100 daily here in the summer. But no one goes to jail here for a dead farm worker.
There is still lots of work to be done and the UFW is trying to level the playing field. Eight states recognize Cesar Chavez’s birthday with a state holiday. Yet… all 50 states eat the food farm workers pick….