Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"A young woman learns to organize"

A young woman learns to organize

I joined the grape boycott staff here in Philadelphia in 1969 (I think it was).  We lived in Boycott House, a row house donated to us by a friend in city government with access to housing.  We were working to get the grapes out of supermarkets in the Philadelphia region.  I had never done direct community organizing but threw myself into it, reaching out to student groups, community organizations and having direct discussions with supermarket managers all over the city.  We organized a sit in at the A&P Headquarters with a large group of women and their children.  They occupied the offices of the regional manager and the kids began opening and closing his drawers, going through his stuff.  “OK”, he finally shouted, “I give.”  That’s how we got the grapes off the A&P shelves in Philadelphia.  Never underestimate the power of a group of motivated women and their children.  Our staff was a mix of organizers from Delano including women who had picked in the fields, myself (a young, white college drop out) and my boyfriend who was the son of a labor organizer in Texas who was sent to Philadelphia by Delano.  There were strains and tensions in the group, but the experience was a tremendous period of growth for me as a person and a political strategist.  I learned lessons that have held me in good stead throughout my long professional career including additional work as an organizer, becoming an R.N., doing clinical care and then directing a women’s health center, working for government, and for a foundation.  I will never forget the people of the UFW, the supporters who rallied around us here in Philadelphia, and the joy we had when that first contract was negotiated and we could finally eat grapes once again.