Cesar Chavez

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to help Cesar's cause

"Moral Courage"

Moral Courage

During the early 1970’s I provided legal services to farm worker organizations in South Florida, including the UFW. Cesar would occasionally come to South Florida, but he was not present for most of the events that I recall. The most memorable and most tragic of these was the death of Nan Freeman on the Talisman Sugar Corporation picket line. I represented the Union in the immediate aftermath of her death and then at her funeral in Boston. Cesar was not present at these events, but he did attend a memorial service for Nan a year later along with Nan’s parents.

I mention the above events because I understand that not much is known about Nan’s death and I’m one of the few persons left who remember it. The event that involved Cesar and which gives rise to the title of this story took place on Miami Beach where we were picketing a food market as part of the grape boycott. Cesar came to the picket line and then went to a nearby hotel to speak at the electrical workers union convention. As we walked into the lobby of the hotel I was immediately to his left. About twenty feet in front of us was a table with a sign inviting people to sign a petition demanding the impeachment of President Nixon. Cesar never broke stride. He marched over to the table and signed the petition. I recall thinking that with all the difficulties faced by the union, it was remarkable that Cesar would want to put his name to a direct challenge to the President at a time when it was by no means certain that Nixon would fall and his vindictive nature was well known. I believe that Cesar was acting from moral conviction . He set an example for all of us and we all signed the petition. Cesar’s speech was well received by the electrical workers, but Cesar’s moral leadership was the high light of the day for me and I have not forgotten it all these years later.