Cesar has been one of my heroes since I was a small child. My grandmother, a Jewish anarchist immigrant from Russia, had been active in many, many social justice movements. When she read about Cesar and the UFW, she started sending small amounts of money from each month’s social security check. Then she hit on a way to really help: she started making ceramics with the UFW eagle and Si Se Puede to benefit the UFW. So I grew up with her activism, and remember being a child of 6 or 7 and joining her leafletting in front of Safeway in Los Angeles. We never bought grapes or iceberg lettuce in our family, and I knew why and would tell my elementary school friends why.
My grandmother passed away in 1983, and Cesar came to her funeral and spoke about my grandmother’s UFW activism. He astounded us with the news that she had raised $75,000 for the UFW through her ceramics sales. I was a college student and vegetarian, and my vegetarian sister sat and ate with Cesar at the reception and talked about animal rights, and the connection of the oppression of animals with the oppression of people. At that point I was not yet vegan (I am now) and didn’t know any vegans. Cesar told us he didn’t eat dairy or eggs because of the cruelty inherent in their farming. So, besides being a hero for farmworkers rights, Cesar is one of my heroes for animal rights.
This year, I will attending the Cesar Chavez celebration in San Francisco on April 20th and leafletting about the meat, dairy and egg industries. Viva Cesar Chavez! A man who hugely influenced my life.