Cesar Chavez

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"A Life Long Respect"

A Life Long Respect

It was the first week of June,1951, and high school was out for the summer.  There were few jobs available for teens, so I joined a group of friends to earn money picking strawberries.  It was my first time, and I didn’t know how to properly dress myself, became faint from too much sun and received a horrible case of sunburn.  My burn upset my father so much I was never again allowed to do that kind of work.  What I remember most was the kind attention and care that I received from the Mexican farm laborers I worked with, many of whom were in family groups.  Until that time the only other Mexican I had ever met was a schoolgirl pal of mine who told me that her parents had emigrated from Mexico as farm laborers.  Nowadays I have many Latino friends from different countries of origin.  When I realized back then how hard the work was and how closely knit the family groups were in the small sample of Mexican families that I had met that day, I gained tremendous respect for all farm laborers as a whole.  I understood what kind of life they had to have led in enduring such back-breaking work while trying to achieve the American dream.  That day in the fields was 62 years ago.  I have held that respect until this day, and have supported UFW since its inception.  It was many years after the grape boycott that I purchased grapes again because I had gotten into the habit of avoiding them.  These days I am an online activist.