Cesar Chavez

Tell us what you did
to help Cesar's cause

"The importance of giving up grapes"

The importance of giving up grapes

Learning about Cesar Chavez was part of my becoming an adult. My mother had taught me to cook young, then the summer I turned 14 she decided it was time for me to learn how to shop, as well. At the store I learned how to plan and budget healthy meals for a family of 6. The one thing I wanted and my mom would not buy, no matter the price, was grapes. She explained why - that us buying and eating grapes would hurt the people who picked them, that we were in our own way on strike alongside the people who worked to bring those grapes to us, and we wouldn’t eat grapes again until their cause was won. Over that summer I heard her explain the same thing over and over to neighbors, to other kids and their parents, to customers in the grocery store. My mom began to call me away from the other kids to join her at the table in the morning as she drank her coffee and read the newspaper, to listen as she read me stories of how the grape boycott was progressing. When she was done reading the newspaper she would cut out any photos of Mr. Chavez to hang on the refrigerator, next to pictures of someone else she admired, a young mom about her age named Jackie Kennedy. My mom taught me throughout life that money doesn’t matter, it’s what we do in the world that defines us. And she taught me that being a social activist was a natural part of being an adult and taking adult responsibilities. I didn’t learn about Ghandi until I was in college, it was Cesar Chavez, along with close family friends who actually worked with him in his activism, who modeled strength and sacrifice and community for me.