Tomorrow, March 10, is the anniversary of the day that Cesar Chavez broke his first and most famous fast, in 1968. That ceremony produced what may be the most iconic photo of Chavez from that era, breaking his 25-day fast with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. (More on RFK and Chavez tomorrow, but here’s a link to a post I did last year about the photo.)
But there’s another set of interesting and significant images from during the fast, when Chavez had to answer a contempt of court summons and appear in Kern County Superior Court. Marshall Ganz had organized hundreds of farmworkers who staged a powerful silent protest at the Bakersfield courthouse, lining up four deep and ringing the building, lining the halls, and taking every seat in every courtroom. Here are two pictures outside the courthouse.
And here is a photo of Chavez arriving at the courthouse, accompanied by one of his top aides, LeRoy Chatfield. The UFW leader had been fasting for two weeks already; the judge would ultimately postpone the case because of his condition.
But here’s one image that came shortly after this photo and was not captured on film, though etched in the memory of several people who saw it and described to me the exact same scene: As Chavez shuffled on to the escalator in the courthouse, he stumbled slightly. Aides turned to him in concern to ask if he felt all right. He looked at them and away from the television cameras, and winked.