This book offers an illuminating story of how social and political change can sometimes result from the vision, leadership, and commitment of a few dedicated individuals determined not to fail.
Led by a relatively penniless young farm worker named Cesar Chavez, the farm workers movement still inspires a sense of pride and purpose among Latinos fighting for personal rights, political power, and economic well-being. Many of the young volunteers in the farm workers movement continue to fight for progressive causes today. Just who was Chavez and what motivated him to say, "enough"?
Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Movement chronicles the drive for a union of one of American society's most exploited groups. It is a story of courage and determination, set against the backdrop of the 1960s, a time of assassinations, war protests, civil rights battles, and reform efforts for poor and minority citizens.
American farm workers were men and women on labor's last rung, living in desperate and inhumane conditions, poisoned by pesticides, and making a pittance for back-breaking work. The book shows how these migrant workers found a champion in Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union. With the help of quotes from documentary material only recently made available, it tells the story of the boycotts, marches, and strikes—including hunger strikes—used to force concessions for better conditions and pay. It also shows how the farm workers movement helped set the stage for growing Latino cultural awareness and political power.
• Interviews, speeches, congressional testimony, diary entries, and firsthand recollections from the early 1960s to the present
• Profiles of men and women who played important leadership roles in the farm workers movement
• Clarifies many misconceptions about migrant field workers and their place in American agribusiness, a pertinent study given current discontent over immigration laws and border security
• Reveals the tactics and strategic maneuvers that enabled a group of dedicated reformers to succeed against formidable opposition and odds
• Examines the personal qualities and commitment that motivated Cesar Chavez, a true American icon
• Demonstrates how the farm workers movement helped pave the way for the growing political power of Latinos, not only in California but nationwide