When I was a young boy, my father often talked about Cesar Chavez to me. My dad had picked asparagus in the Central Valley in the early 1950’s. For many years, he was also a gardener for the LA Housing Authority, and they were organized by Laborer’s Local 300. Eventually, my dad became a field rep and one day took the whole family with him to DC for a big rally. As we getting into our airplane seats, my dad pointed at someone and asked me if I knew who it was. I had no idea, but later during the flight, my dad took me back and introduced me to Cesar Chavez. It was 1975, I was in the 7th grade and 12 years old. I remember Fred Ross Jr., this tall blonde surfer boy, standing there like it was yesterday. Cesar was super nice and stroked my hair. The next year, my dad campaigned very hard for Jimmy Carter and even though I was just in the 8th grade, I got to stay up all night with him putting up door hangers all over LA. About 4am, the election workers all took a break and went to an all night breakfast place in downtown LA. There was Cesar again! He was an organizer not a movie star, and you could touch him and see him and be near him. It was not a big deal in those day, I think. In 1983, I was in college and got my first car. I put only one bumper sticker on it, one really big red bumper sticker on it that read “NO GRAPES.” All caps. So many people would ask me about it. In 1994, I was in my second year of law school at Columbia. I remember the morning that my roommate came in with the newspaper saying Cesar had passed away. So young. I couldn’t believe it. I wish I had done more during Cesar’s life but he touched me and my family. We will always remember him and honor him, Dolores, and the many organizers.
Judge Gerardo Sandoval
San Francisco Superior Court