In the late 60’s when I was a teenager in high school, My mother, Maria Dolores Lopez, was heavily involved in the UFW movement. I wasn’t. My mom use to be a cook for a government program and as result would offer her help and cook for the union after a long day of marching, boycotting and similar activities. She would offer our home in Del Rey, California for them to meet, relax and have a hot Mexican meal.
On one of those occasions, on a sweltering September month, Cesar, whom I didn’t really know, was talking to me about being involved. I didn’t want to talk to him because his presence at our home was interrupting my plans for that day, but out of respect to our guest, I listened-sort of.
He said a lot things about being involved, fighting for our rights and to do it non-violently. To be honest the only thing I really remember of his words was when he said, “Willie, tu puedes ser parte de la solucion o parte de la problema.” “You can be a part of the solution or part of the problem.”
I always remembered that and put it to practice later in life. I had my ups and downs in life, but those words never left me. At the time, I didn’t have a clue of who I was talking to or of all of his future accomplishments.
Presently, I am a motivational speaker. I speak nationally, mostly to high school students. The topics vary greatly, but the message is the same. When you Google me and look up Willie Lopez, you’ll notice the phrase after my name, “You can be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.”
Since my retirement, I’ve continued to volunteer in my community. I am the Chairperson of The Cesar Chavez Committee of El Concilio de Fresno, in Fresno, California. I am being a part of the solution. Thank you Cesar.