Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"East Los and the UFW"

1968 was a tumultuous year.  It was a year of protests, boycotts, student walkouts, war, and assassinations.  This created the fire that forged the steel resolve of activists of every stripe.  My story as a UFW supporter began in high school, when my California History teacher showed a film about Cesar Chavez and the UFW.  Here was a real leader who contrasted sharply from the blustery radicals of that time.                  While working as a short order cook at a retail store in East L. A., a group of UFW information picketers drew my attention, and I offered to buy them lunch, which I also made.  That was my first involvement with the UFW. After my election to the St. Alphonsus Parish Council, the UFW was added to the agenda of the Social Concerns Committee.  Dennis Kaptur, and the late Louie Galicia, Joined me in supporting the local UFW organizer by information picketing, voter registration, fund raisers, housing UFW rank and file, intitiative petition drives, strategy meetings, and boycott delegations.  At this time, Fr. Juan Romero was assigned to St. Alphonsus.  I recalled that he appreared in the documentary “Fighting For Our Lives.”  He became my mentor, and recruiter for the priesthood.  Although I didn’t become a priest, he performed the wedding ceremony for Margaret and me, and baptized my two daughters, Cindy and Amanda.  So far, I’ve been faithful to this calling for 29 years.  Gracias padre.  I was inspired by the leadership and dedicated work of Conrado Terrazas, his brother Orlando, John Brown, and Vicky Singer.  In 1976, Conrado invited me to be a delegate to the UFW convention to announce the mutual support of presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter.  It was a thrill, but not as thrilling as meeting Cesar in person.  My first meeting was at a greeting line to recruit teachers for the Prop 14 initiative drive.  The second time was at the premier of Raices de Sangre.  I was introduced by Fr. Juan Romero.  After Cesar passed away, my wife and I joined others at La Paz for a tribute to Cesar on El Dia de Los Muertos in 1993.  I am now a retired teacher and school counselor after a 35 year career.  I heard Cesar’s speeches several times.  Two of his quotations remain with me to this day.  “There’s more time than money,” and, “Ingles es el idioma para hacer los negocios, pero espanol es el idioma de los angelitos.”