Cesar Chavez Remembered
In Honoring Cesar Chavez Day, The Ella Baker Center's own Maya Garza sat down with Ella Baker Center Families Organizer Lourdes Durate and discussed Chavez's legacy.
M: What was the most important lesson you learned from Cesar Chavez and his work?
L: Cesar Chavez is a hero because he was willing to sacrifice to achieve the goals of his organization. He not only had support of the Latino community, but during one of his hunger strikes, I remember key leaders of the Filipino, white, and African –American communities expressing their support the farm workers and for Cesar. He also inspired me to get involved and to be politically active – I supported the boycotts, wore pins that expressed support for the farm workers, and talked with people about the farm workers.
M: I remember being really little and my parents not buying grapes because of the boycotts. I think it is pretty amazing that he was able to have such broad-based support – especially when considering he was advocating for fairly invisible minority, who without him in the forefront, would not have gotten the same kind of support. But what do you this Cesar Chavez would think about the state of America right now?
L: I think that he would embrace the new Democratic political leadership, but that he would be disappointed with the continued mistreatment of agricultural and undocumented workers.
M: I agree, especially when looking at the treatment of day laborers and people working in slaughterhouses – there is much reform that needs to be done to address their dangerous working conditions as well as violations of child labor laws.
L: Yes, I think he would look at where we are at right now and say we still have much to do.
M: How do you think the work at EBC aligns with the Cesar Chavez's vision?
L: I think that our work is different – his work was at a national level, advocating for a particular group of vulnerable people. Our work is about providing change and opportunity for low-income people of color in Oakland and California.
M: I think that we both recognize the importance of building coalitions with allies that may not usually work together to achieve something larger for our constituencies.
Maya Garza is a recent Baltimore transplant and is a UFW baby – her parents met when they were organizing for the UFW in Florida and Cesar Chavez was at her christening. Her father grew up working in the fields as a farm worker. Maya serves as a Development and Executive Assistant at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Lourdes Duarte s a founding member of Families for Books Not Bars at the Ella Baker Center and assisted in growing the membership from 10 members to over 400 members.
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