We Remember Cesar Chavez in the mist of Union Busting by the Greedy Rich

Today March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day. We think its important that this iconic Labor Leader of the United Farm Workers have his birthday made into a national holiday. We also think in the wake of all the drama and attacks being directed at labors unions in Wisconsin and in Ohio to name a couple, that we all take time to understand the significance of UFW and the harsh fight to establish it.

Not a whole lot of folks truly understand the types of oppressive, abuse  and dangerous conditions farm workers had to endure to get paid what often amounted to below minimum wage earnings. When you contrast what the Latino and Filipino workers went through with what is unfolding today, you can get a better appreciation for unions. You can also see how greed and disrespect for the average worker manifest itself by corporation and the rich and powerful.

On a side note usually this time of year we have xenophobic types who like to hijack Cesar Chavez day by pointing out that Chavez was against illegal immigration..He felt they undermined his union.. and that’s true.. What these same folks often fail to mention is that Chavez was for unions and wanted all to be paid a living wage and work in safe conditions. Many of the folks who like to raise the Cesar Chavez flag on the immigration question are nowhere to be seen when challenged on the totality of this man’s message.. Economic empowerment and dignity for all people.

Here’s a brief rundown of Cesar Chavez and the UFW

In 1962 Cesar founded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers – the UFW. He was joined by Dolores Huerta and the union was born. That same year Richard Chavez designed the UFW Eagle and Cesar chose the black and red colors. Cesar told the story of the birth of the eagle. He asked Richard to design the flag, but Richard could not make an eagle that he liked. Finally he sketched one on a piece of brown wrapping paper. He then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on the handmade red flags that would give courage to the farm workers with their own powerful symbol. Cesar made reference to the flag by stating, “A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives
pride . . . When people see it they know it means dignity.”

For a long time in 1962, there were very few union dues paying members. By 1970 the UFW got grape growers to accept union contracts and had effectively organized most of that industry, at one point in time claiming 50,000 dues paying members. The reason was Cesar Chavez’s tireless leadership and nonviolent tactics that included the Delano grape strike, his fasts that focused national attention on farm workers problems, and the 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966. The farm workers and supporters carried banners with the black eagle with HUELGA (strike) and VIVA LA CAUSA (Long live our cause). The marchers wanted the state government to pass laws which would permit farm workers to organize into a union and allow collective bargaining agreements. Cesar made people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions. He succeeded through nonviolent tactics (boycotts, pickets, and strikes). Cesar Chavez and the union sought recognition of the importance and dignity of all farm workers.

It was the beginning of La Causa a cause that was supported by organized labor, religious groups, minorities, and students. Cesar Chavez had the foresight to train his union workers and then to send many of them into the cities where they were to use the boycott and picket as their weapon.

Cesar was willing to sacrifice his own life so that the union would continue and that violence was not used. Cesar fasted many times. In 1968 Cesar went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days. What motivated him to do this? He said, Farm workers everywhere are angry and worried that we cannot win without violence. We have proved it before through persistence, hard work, faith and willingness to sacrifice. We can win and keep our own self-respect and build a great union that will secure the spirit of all people if we do it through a rededication and recommitment to the struggle for justice through nonviolence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6weulYxNTo pt1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6L3rFRw7sHk pt2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXDHkMYutBs pt3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMoYwRS2RLU pt4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vyr1HduS_b8&feature=related pt5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b22godLzyRY&feature=related pt6

Here’s a Commonly held Belief About Columbus-They Claim Native Americans Can’t lay Claim to America

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DaveyD-leather-225As we sit back and ‘celebrate’  Columbus Day I think one should keep in mind that more than a few people had the gall to ask why I reprinted the essay put forth by Professor Ward Churchillwho laid down the facts about Columbus Day. Some felt by putting it out we were being divisive.  They felt we were making things too racial and living in the past. Really? BS.. Here’s the reason why I put posted the Churchill article.  You can read the article here: http://bit.ly/2z0E5v

All this morning, I heard newscast after newscast especially on the east coast where Columbus was touted as this revered explorer who led the way to the New World. Not one mention of the genocide he ushered in. Not one mention of him getting lost. It was all praises for a drunken sailor.

I couple that particular narrative of Columbus being a hero who sailed the ocean blue with the changes being advocated in Texas by members of its state board of education in history and social studies books where there’s a huge push to remove the already short mentions of iconic figures like United Farm Workers founder and Civil Rights activist Cesar Chavez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who successfully argued for the elimination of school segregation in the historic Brown vs the Board of Education. Marshall did this as a lawyer for the NAACP, before being appointed to the Supreme Court.  The push is to replace Chavez and Marshall with the accomplishments of far right conservative icons Reverend Jerry Falwell and Newt Gingrich.

Now many of y’all reading this are saying to yourselves ‘Who care’s? After all, it’s a typical scenario one might imagine to happen in a state like Texas right? Wrong.  Next time you open up one of your kids elementary school books, be sure to make note that Texas specializes in selling school books. It’s the country’s biggest exporter.  So you could be in a far off place like New York, California or West Virginia and be reading revisionist history…

Topping all this off is ridiculous column that was passed along to me this morning. Read it,  laugh and then take note. Wars are won by controlling the thinking of your opponent. People to the far political right clearly understand the importance of reaching impressionable minds early on and in controlled environments like school.  If you don’t believe me, look at the crazy protests our racist far right friends held in Burlington, New Jersey this morning to protest elementary school kids singing a song praising President Obama during a Black History month celebration this past February. http://www.wtop.com/?nid=316&sid=1771576

 Something to think about

-Davey D-

Joe McQuaid: Unlike Halloween in Manchester, Columbus is feted on actual holiday

by Joe McQuaid

Source: http://bit.ly/2MhpZQ

christopher_columbusIn fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue

Happy Columbus Day. It was never a day off when I was going to school. And, yes, Columbus had long gone by then, so just forget the thought that when I was in school it was too soon to recognize the event’s importance.

This is one of those weird years when the day is actually observed on the date — unless you live in Manchester and we are talking about Halloween. Here, unlike in the rest of the free world, Halloween will not be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 31.

As for today’s anniversary, it is generally believed to have been on or about Oct. 12 when Columbus and crew, aboard the Nina, the Pinta and the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, reached the Americas. Okay, I’m just kidding about the name of the last ship.

Although we didn’t get the day off from school when I was growing up, Columbus and the Santa Maria and the whole king and queen of Spain thing were a big deal. Editorial cartoons of the day were more likely to have an Indian looking at the white guys coming ashore and saying, “There goes the neighborhood,” than painting Columbus as a pillager and enslaver.

Some revisionist historians seriously hold that the Europeans were all bad guys who ruined the Americas, imported smallpox, stole gold and forced the savages to stop being savages and to share their smokes. The revise guys also like to speak of the “native Americans,” in reference to the folks Columbus ran into.

But those peoples’ ancestors had also come from elsewhere, and their claims to being here first are a bit like Columbus’ partisans saying he was the first white discoverer, which leaves no room for Leif Erikson or St. Brendan or Lord knows who else.

It is what it is. Nature abhors a vacuum, much as I abhor a vacuum cleaner, and the big wide world was not going to lie vacant for very long after sailors and explorers used their God-given brains and took the calculated risk that they would not fall off the edge of the earth or be devoured by sea monsters if they sailed west in order to get east.

There’s a line from the “Seinfeld” show that has Jerry and George arguing about their favorite explorer. George says DeSoto, for discovering the Mississippi River.

“Oh,” sneers Jerry, “like they weren’t going to find that anyway.”

Someone would have “found” the Americas, too. But Columbus is the guy who did it big time, without a GPS and even without Twitter or a Facebook page to spread the word.

Write to Joe McQuaid at publisher@unionleader.com.

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