Archive | UFW

Clothes make the man

Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is the source of many famous quotes and aphorisms, including the paraphrase of a line from Polonius that we have come to know as the saying, “clothes make the man.” Cesar Chavez, who left school after 8th grade, had likely not discovered Shakespeare when the 25-year-old discovered his lifelong passion: community organizing. But he instinctively […]

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Chavez and King

Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. never met. They overlapped only briefly in the national spotlight, though their names are often linked together because of they each championed civil rights and shared a very public commitment to non-violent protest. When John Lewis led marchers across the Edmund Pettus bridge on Bloody Sunday, fifty years ago today, […]

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March 31, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, is a state holiday in California, and President Obama regularly issues a proclamation of a national day of service. The intent of the 2000 law in California was not only to honor Chavez, but to draw attention to the life of this remarkable man, and in particular to educate students. There’s a long way to go. Sadly, I’ve […]

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Staring into History

The 27-year-old just stared at the photo of the young girl. Jose Barreto’s mother is 50; he had never seen a picture of her as a child. Now through a combination of chance and history and complicated threads, he sat in an El Centro kitchen, looking back four decades at a picture of a 10-year-old girl. […]

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An Historic Day for Labor

Labor Day falls this year on the anniversary of a truly historic labor victory. Forty-eight years ago today, workers gathered in a hall in Delano, California, nervously awaiting the results of the first election in the fields: The fight to represent farmworkers who picked grapes at giant DiGiorgio Company. It was an election, Cesar Chavez later said, that […]

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Health Care for Farmworkers, or an infusion for an ailing union?

  The Robert F. Kennedy health insurance plan illustrates two extremes of Cesar Chavez’s legacy for farmworkers. In the early 1970s, the UFW-sponsored plan provided much-needed health care for farmworkers and epitomized the audacious triumphs that grew from Chavez’s soaring vision. But within a decade, the insurance program came crashing to earth in a bureaucratic mess. Staffed […]

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