It was 1969, I was 20 years old, Cesar led a demonstration calling for dignity in the fields for our workers. I was mesmerized by his conviction, compassion, and control. He walked through the crowd noticed my tears and stopped, took my hand, and simply said, “Si, se puede”. Tears streamed down my face faster as I recalled at the age of eight, watching my parents come home from the fields with a mixture of odors of sweat, dirt and citrus. My father would bear cuts on his hands, my mother with dirt embedded in her fingernails. I would stare at their skin, scorched from the sun, yet their smiles somehow brought comfort, security, and love to each of their five sons.
In 1995, my father in a wheel chair, sat watching one of his eldest grand daughters graduate from Harvard Medical School. Tears streaming, I leaned him and kiss his cheek.
I said to him, “because of you and mom, she is up there”. He smiled—“I gave you a dream, you found it. Cesar Chavez gave you hope and faith that this could happen.” My father died one week later.
Since that day forward, I promised myself that despite our education, good fortune, I would never forget the words of Cesar nor my father. Today, I’m working with farm labor to ensure their payroll is protected from the high cost of check cashing and money wire but motivating their employers to accept a new technology that is more economical and gives protection to their workers.
I’m honored to have come from family that taught is the dignity of labor and to the UFW for continuing La Causa.