Cesar Chavez

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"French Camp CA/Stockton Tomato Strikes..."

French Camp CA/Stockton Tomato Strikes...

Wow, truly something to know that UFW and the fight for la causa has come a long ways.  Not too long ago, I found myself speaking with my father.  I was telling him that I remember when Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez and Arturo Rodriguez organized at the Farm Labor Camp where I lived.  You know, I never really got to thinking about this but when I was about ten the tomato growers in the san Joaquin valley of California near Stockton were paying very low rate for the buckets of tomato.  I lived in a migrant labor camp that housed people that worked primarily in the fields in a house or place that looked too small.  The UFW leaders were holding a gathering at the labor camp where I lived.  I noticed that there were people preparing for a stirike the next morning and the people were rolling out pieces of cloth and would, so the people were rolling out pieces of cloth and the cloth was the size of the flag, and with black tape they would form what appeared as an eagle, but then I new nothing about what a strike was.  All I really new was just that they were gathering with an amplified megaphone or bullhorn.  In retrospect I now know that they were organizing the people for the next day’s strike.  The next afternoon, there were cars with broken windows driving into the camp and it appeared that the people that was once a family had grown apart and I could not under stand why.  This migrant labor camp used to be a famiy.  I know that initially I would ask my parents what was happening, however they would not tell me much.  So the next day when the cars were all driving in with broken windows and people walking in with baseball bats, I could hear Dolores Huerta on the bullhorn indicating “Si se puede”.  I could not understand what si se puede meant, it was just one of those things that at the time you don’t know what is going on,  I entered college in 1991 and became a member of the UFW.  I have been a member since… and throughout the years became involved with the Delano to Sacramento Marcha that spent one night in Stockton in 1994.  At the Univiesity of the Pacific students including myself were able to house and feed families participating in the walk. The experience finally all came together after years and speaking with those that were in the field striking therefore placing all in perspective.  The truth of the matter is that I am a proud campesino and now graduate and hold a masters in Electrical Engineering due primarily to this wage increases that allowed my parents to find a stable job.  My parents were able to finally afford to stay in a single place so that we could receive an education.  The opportunity was provided by leadership of many, going back to Martin Luther King Jr and Ghandi, whom Cesar Chavez praised for their commitment for the betterment of the this world.  The hunger strikes gave us migrant children the opportunity to get an education and it was up to us to take responsibility of that opportunity.  I recently had the opportunity to speak in front of a group at a Hispanic Leadership Symposium at San Joaquin Delta College, where I mentioned a bit of what I remembered in or around June of 1982 and the tomato strike here in this San Joaquin Valley.  Some of the comments that I received was that they too remember these times…  Thank you UFW for everything…. I feel blessed…..