TO HONOR CESAR CHAVEZ
Sacramento, CA 3-29-08
2008 annual Cesar Chavez March began at 10 a.m. with a gathering
in the parking lot at Los Primos Pizzeria/Taqueria on Northgate
Blvd. Marchers then proceeded to downtown Sacramento via Hwy 160
and 12th Street, detouring to the Blue Diamond Almond Growers for
a brief rally in support of the ILWU's organizing effort at Blue
Diamond. The march ended at Cesar Chavez Plaza with speeches and
Most photos are accompanied by excerpts from Cesar Chavez's
address to the Commonwealth Club of California, delivered November
9, 1984, in San Francisco.
consciousness and pride that were raised by our union are alive and
thriving inside millions of young Hispanics who will never work on
a farm! Like the other immigrant groups, the day will come when we
win the economic and political rewards which are in keeping with our
numbers in society. The day will come when the politicians do the
right thing by our people out of political necessity and not out of
charity or idealism. That day may not come this year. That day may
not come during this decade. But it will come, someday!
And when that day comes, we shall see the fulfillment
of that passage from the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, "That
the last shall be first and the first shall be last."
And on that day, our nation shall fulfill its creed--and
that fulfillment shall enrich us all."
and rural, young and old--are connected to the farm workers' experience.
We had all lived through the fields--or our parents had. We shared
that common humiliation. How could we progress as a people, even if
we lived in the cities, while the farm workers--men and women of our
color--were condemned to a life without pride? How could we progress
as a people while the farm workers--who symbolized our history in
this land--were denied self-respect? How could our people believe
that their children could become lawyers and doctors and judges and
business people while this shame, this injustice was permitted to
continue?" --Cesar Chavez
began to realize what other minority people had discovered: That the
only answer--the only hope--was in organizing. More of us had to become
citizens. We had to register to vote. And people like me had to develop
the skills it would take to organize, to educate, to help empower
the Chicano people.
I spent many years--before
we founded the union--learning how to work with people. We experienced
some successes in voter registration, in politics, in battling racial
discrimination--successes in an era when Black Americans were just
beginning to assert their civil rights and when political awareness
among Hispanics was almost non-existent."--Cesar Chavez
who attack our union often say, 'It's not really a union. It's something
else: A social movement. A civil rights movement. It's something dangerous."
They're half right. The United Farm Workers is first and foremost
a union. A union like any other. A union that either produces for
its members on the bread and butter issues or doesn't survive.
But the UFW has always been something more than a union
--although it's never been dangerous if you believe in the Bill
of Rights. The UFW was the beginning! We attacked that historical
source of shame and infamy that our people in this country lived
with. We attacked that injustice, not by complaining; not by seeking
hand-outs; not by becoming soldiers in the War on Poverty. We organized!
Farm workers acknowledged we had allowed ourselves to become victims
in a democratic society--a society where majority rule and collective
bargaining are supposed to be more than academic theories or political
rhetoric. And by addressing this historical problem, we created
confidence and pride and hope in an entire people's ability to create
the future."--Cesar Chavez
we redirected our efforts from the boycott to organizing and winning
elections under the law. The law helped farm workers make progress
in overcoming poverty and injustice. At companies where farm workers
are protected by union contracts, we have made progress in overcoming
child labor, in overcoming miserable wages and working conditions,
in overcoming sexual harassment of women workers, in overcoming dangerous
pesticides which poison our people and poison the food we all eat.
Where we have organized, these injustices soon pass into history."--Cesar
||"I am told,
these days, why farm workers should be discouraged and pessimistic:
The Republicans control the Governor's office and the White House.
They say there is a conservative trend in the nation. Yet we are filled
with hope and encouragement. We have looked into the future and the
future is ours!"--Cesar Chavez
trend that gives us hope is the monumental growth of Hispanic influence
in this country and what that means in increased population, increased
social and economic clout, and increased political influence. South
of the Sacramento River in California, Hispanics now make up more
than 25 percent of the population. That figure will top 30 percent
by the year 2000. There are 1.1 million Spanish-surnamed registered
voters in California; 85 percent are Democrats; only 13 percent
are Republicans. In 1975, there were 200 Hispanic elected officials
at all levels of government. In 1984, there are over 400 elected
judges, city council members, mayors and legislators. In light of
these trends, it is absurd to believe or suggest that we are going
to go back in time--as a union or as a people!"