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Commentary: What Cesar Chavez Taught Us

From: Dick Meister
Length: 02:46

It's the 38th anniversary of farmworker leader Cesar Chavez's extraordinary 25-day fast.

Default-piece-image-1 The 25-day fast of Cesar Chavez in 1968, one of the most extreme sacrifices in U.S. labor history, was an extraordinary demonstration of the effectiveness of non-violent activism. It helped win California's vineyard workers the first farm union contracts in history and inspired and energized millions of social activists and workers worldwide.

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Piece Description

The 25-day fast of Cesar Chavez in 1968, one of the most extreme sacrifices in U.S. labor history, was an extraordinary demonstration of the effectiveness of non-violent activism. It helped win California's vineyard workers the first farm union contracts in history and inspired and energized millions of social activists and workers worldwide.

Broadcast History

None.

Transcript

This year marks the 38th anniversary of one of the most extreme and effective acts of sacrifice in the history of American labor ? a truly heroic act by farmworker leader Cesar Chavez.

For 25 days he fasted, in February and March of 1968, surviving on nothing but occasional sips of water. The fast was crucial in winning support for the nationwide grape boycott that forced growers to grant California?s vineyard workers the first union contracts ever won by any farmworkers ? contracts they had to have if they were to finally escape abject poverty.

Waging the boycott was extremely hard for the farmworkers. With little money, and little experience, they traveled to unfamiliar cities far away from their rural communities to seek support. Chavez? act inspired them as well as their potential supporters. And it made the workers? own considerable sacrifices seem much less onerous.

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Timing and Cues

INTRO: Commentator Dick Meister recalls one of Cesar Chavez' most heroic acts.

OUTRO: Dick Meister is co-authoir of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers."