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tv   History Bookshelf Miriam Pawel The Crusades of Cesar Chavez  CSPAN  August 17, 2021 6:08am-6:57am EDT

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he certainly knew who the two key committee chairs were, and he was convincing enough to get them to go onto the floor and argue on his behalf. even though it didn't work. but there's parts of the story that, you know, we really have to -- there are a lot of gaps to the story. >> one more question? >> sure. >> the difference between english law and then spanish or mexican law that they had to work through. what might they have encountered with that? >> that's really kind of a territorial transition, you know, question, and i'm not so familiar with how to answer that. >> okay. >> i mean -- >> i think some of the justices had to work with that that were in the territories. you're right, yeah. >> the court justices from -- yeah.
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>> well, i believe our time is about expired. thank you, matt, for thato talk
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created about mr. chavez and the movement he led. this event is from the 2014 san antonio book festival. >> good morning. welcome. >> hola. >> today, we are very fortunate to have a very special guest with us. miriam pawel. however, i would like to introduce myself first so you know who to complain to later. my name is greg barrios, a former book editor of the "san antonio express" news. i worked for many years in los angeles for the "los angeles times." i've written for the "new york times." currently, i write for the "los
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angeles review of books," and i'm on the board of directors of the national book critics circle. i'm also the author of a book of poetry that deals with la calsa. that's what it is called. at this time, i'd like to introduce miriam. miriam is the former pulitzer prize-winning editor who spent 25 years at "news day" and the "los angeles times." her book, "the crusades of cesar chavez," a biography, is the first comprehensive biography of the iconic, charismatic leader. she has also written "the union of their dreams," a widely acclaimed and nuanced history of chavez's united farm workers
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movement. she recently received a national endowment for the humanities fellowship to support her work on the chavez biography. please welcome miriam pawel. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> hi, miriam. >> hi, greg. thanks. can you hear me? yeah, okay, i'm on. >> i want to ask you something i feel that is really important. what brought you through the writing about cesar chavez? i know a lot of people here in texas know who he is, but then i was very surprised to learn that, recently, when the mexican film maker, diego luna, was having the premiere of his film
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on cesar chavez in austin at south by southwest, he took a walk, a stroll, down cesar chavez boulevard and asked people if they knew who cesar chavez was. some -- most of them said they felt he was the boxer, the mexican boxer. julio cesar chavez. or they thought he was julio cesar chavez jr., who is also a boxer. another answered, isn't he the venezuelan leader, hugo chavez? and several others said they thought he had something to do with the chicano movement. it surprised the filmmaker.
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why did you decide to write a full length book, after writing, what is it, a long series in the "los angeles times" about the unions, and then your recent book, "the union of their dreams"? >> thanks for asking that question. the answer ties closely to what you said about diego luna. the fact is there was no biography, and that's really why i wrote it. because you are all here today presumably because you've heard about cesar chavez and know something about him. but he is virtually unknown these days. when you get outside of california and the southwest, people really have no idea who he was. i was in the salinas valley recently, still a heart of the agricultural industry, and an english teacher got up at an event and said her students had
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no idea who cesar chavez is. it's not only in austin. i believe that part of the reason that he has sort of faded from our collective memory and not gotten the attention and the study he deserves is because there has been, until recently, so little serious scholarship about him. there's been a lot of higiography and repetition of stories that are rather making him into a fairly one-dimensional figure. so a lot of people have known he was a much more complicated person, but there's been a reluctance to sort of tackle the subject. i also knew from my earlier work that there was a tremendous amount of material available. i mean, he saved everything. he saved documents. he saved hundreds of audiotapes of conversations and meetings and conferences. so i knew that there was this rich trove of material that had
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not really been fully mined. you know, i think that he is such an important figure in history, and should be, and that a biography would go and be an important step in sort of restoring him to that position that he deserves. >> how helpful were earlier works about the union and chavez, like john gregory dunn and peter matheson? i feel there was a couple others that -- jaq leavey, as well. how helpful were those biographies? they were helpful in different ways. for folks who don't know about them, the first two books that you mentioned, john gregory dunn and peter matheson, were written at the sort of height of the struggle and in the real glory days of the movement and the boycott. probably people remember still the boycott, right?
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so they were both written in '67, '68, '69, that time period. they're both really wonderful writers. so each of them captured a lot about the spirit of the time. dunn was much more leery of where the movement was going to end up and, in some ways, a little more accurate in his predictions. peter matheson, who i interviewed for my book, as well, was much more optimistic at the time about where things were going to end up and was disappointed. then jaq leavey's book, he was the official biographer of cesar chavez in the early years, with his book published in 1974. so there was obviously a big gap after that. but because he was authorized, he was allowed this incredible access to chavez. chavez and the union knew that they would have the right to review the manuscript beforehand. what leavey did was tape
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everything, also, and transcribe all his tapes. ultimately, he had a falling out with chavez's heirs and sold his collection to yale university. so there are, again, these hundreds of tapes. he was present at negotiations and all sorts of very inner circle meetings. so they were a wonderful resource. he went with chavez on a trip to europe where, among other things, cesar and helen chavez had an audience with the pope. leavey was there. on the flight back, tapes of cesar talking about the trip, what it meant to him to meet the pope. it was this wonderful resource for me. >> do you repeat any of those stories for us recent readers of chavez? >> absolutely. they're all -- i mean, i do repeat the stories, and then i try to separate out the facts and the way the stories have sort of gotten embellished over
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the years, some of them. really interesting and, i think, important ways. chavez created, to some degree, his own mythology, and he did it because he was a great organizer and did it to sort of help with the cause. but in the end, you know, 21 years after his death, i think it's time to sort of separate out and show the ways in which he created the mythology. >> i understand that you did not have access to most of the family, or i believe dolores, as well. >> right. >> could you tell us the reasons they felt, perhaps, they didn't want to cooperate with another book? >> so i think i should basically let the family speak for themselves about their reasons, but they did not cooperate. they felt -- it was transmitted to me through third parties that they felt that only a member of the family should write the story, essentially.
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they have always retained great control over the story. the movie, which we may get to later, the movie is the family's movie and they were very involved in the movie. they did not feel i was the person who should be writing the story. and i knew that going in. i knew i would not have cooperation, and i knew that there was so much material available that i didn't need it. >> i understand that they did respond to your first articles that appeared in the "la times," and they actually filed some kind of a suit with the attorney general. what was the result of that? >> well, so the articles in the "los angeles times" were really much more about what the ufw had become and the fact that the union was really not in the field anymore and had not been for many, many years. so the stories focused mostly on the present and on the problems
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that farm workers still suffer from and the exploitation and the terrible housing conditions that go on while the ufw has moved on and done a lot of other sort of entrepreneurship. so in doing those stories, i kind of started to look back at the past. that was what i came to the past and ultimately to this book and through the present and writing about farm workers conditions today. the union did not like the stories. they didn't sue. they filed a notice saying they were preserving their right to sue the paper for libel, but ultimately, they never filed a suit. they issued a 100-page report alleging all sorts of things which the paper stood by the stories and we never ran any corrections. >> there's a famous line in a film by john ford, and they're having the john ford panel next
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door. it's the scene at the end when james stewart goes to a newspaper reporter or editor and tells him that he's the man who shot -- he's not the man who shot liberty. the newspaper editor won't hear anything about it. he says, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. i think that i'd like to start there by asking you how cesar got started as a labor organizer. >> then we'll have to connect it to the legends. i'm thinking about how we're going to do that. >> yes. >> okay, you have a plan. his beginning as a organizer is a fascinating part of the story and really important to understanding his later years and decisions. he was a farm worker. he became part of the migrant stream in 1939 when he was 12
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years old and his family lost their farm in yuma, arizona. he worked as a farm worker. he was in the navy. he came out. he finally worked his way out of the fields and was a lumber -- working in a lumberyard. in 1952, fred ross, who really nobody has heard of fred ross, and that's too bad, too, with a couple notable exceptions. fred ross was an enormously important community organizer and ran a group called the community service organization, which was almost exclusively in california. it was really the first sort of part of the mexican-american civil rights movement. in 1952, he went to san jose. he started doing what he did when he came to a new place, which was to hold house meetings. you invite a few people over, talk to them about what are their concerns, what are their needs, and try to get people engaged in collective community organizing. and he meets cesar chavez at a meeting at the chavez house. here's where we can tie into the legend nicely.
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part of the legend is fred ross wrote in his journal that night, i think i found the guy i'm looking for. that, you can find that quote in lots of books and lots of scholarship works even, but, in fact, that's made up. i found the actual entry in fred ross' journal from that night, in which he says something very positive. he says, you know, chavez, great potential, great energy. you know, something very positive about cesar, but not exactly the quote as the legend has become. so that's how he gets his start. he immediately -- he's 25 years old, really smart, stuck in this dead end job, and along comes fred ross. we're going to do a voter registration drive. he becomes the chair. 1954, clearly impresses ross and
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salinski, the funder of the organization. 1954, cesar is on the payroll of the iaf and cfo. he has a ten-year apprenticeship as an organizer working for ross between 1952 and 1962, before he goes off into the part of the story that more people, you know, are familiar with when he organized his farm workers. >> let's go back to his name. when i first got a copy of your book, i was startled in a way because the accent marks in his name were not there. it read, cesar chavez. i wondered and i looked it up, and i found that several newspapers do use the accent marks. i also found in our second-rate wikipedia that the accent marks
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were there. his original name was cesario. would you tell me why he changed the name or whether he actually used the accent marks or not? >> so his name was cesario. his grandfather's name was cesario, and he was named after his grandfather, although he never knew him. growing up in yuma, just outside of yuma, when he went to school, his name was changed to cesar. his mother never was happy about this situation. she always called him cesario. she also did not speak english. he spoke spanish at home to his parents. so he became cesar when he went to school, and he was always -- if you listen to the tapes, which i've listened to hundreds of hours, or you talk to people who worked with him at the time, although there's some revisionist history in that, but he was always called cesar. i actually saw an interview with
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america ferreira who plays helen chavez in the movie. she was asked, why do you call him cesar in the movie? she said, helen calls him cesar, so that was good enough for me. so he never used the accents. he called himself cesar. in recent years, there has been a revisionist. you will hear dolores refer to him as cesar now from time to time, though she did not back in the day. >> okay. was he -- at the time he became organizer with the cso, i think he became disenchanted with the way things were being run. he also was kind of upset with the fact that once the union members were put in the circuit,
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they often wanted to talk about money and very little else, and not support the work that needed to be done to create the union later on. >> i think that's a really key point, and it goes back to the cso days. so here he is, an organizer in the cso. he is helping to sort of empower mexican-americans who have not been, you know, part of the voting public, to some degree, and certainly not a political power. and as he works with them and as they move into the middle class, the they adopt middle class values. he is really upset by this. so in the late 1950s, you see him writing in his journal more and more and writing letters to fred ross and saying, you know, the way this is going, this is just not going in the direction that i want. he really believed that it was
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important to empower people and for them to not -- to have a sense of dignity, to not live in poverty, and to remember where they came from and help those not living with dignity and help with the cause. that's part of why he starts out on his own to organize farm workers. i think that that really strong feeling that i have empowered these people and now they're using that power towards goals i don't support becomes very significant later on when you try to understand some of the decisions that he made and the degree to which he wanted to maintain control. because he never wanted to be in that situation again. he talks about that quite a lot. so later on, you know, the cso was just a membership organization. once he's running a labor union,
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a lot of people support labor unions because they want to make more money. they want better conditions. not everyone joins a labor union because they want to better the lives of other people and sacrifice. so he felt very strongly that you needed to educate workers in order to share this philosophy that he had. that was a very -- became a tough issue. >> at this time, there was the beginning of the mexican-american civil rights movement. and there were other leaders in the mix. you know, there was reyes diadina. there was corky gonzalez for the crusade in denver. there was gutierrez in crystal
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city here in texas. and, yet, chavez never reached out to connect with them. it seemed to be very focused only in california. >> i think this goes back to the control issue to some degree. he wanted to be the sole person in control. he made some efforts, and we can talk about this later perhaps, in texas. he ultimately really undermined efforts by other people to organize in texas because he didn't want to be in that kind of position of sharing power. so he also had a very strong commitment to non-violence, and that was not necessarily shared by some of the other early leaders in fact chicano movement, so that became a difference. ironically, he emerges as the end, particularly toward the end of his life, as the symbol of the chicano movement, even though he did not really embrace it in its earlier years.
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>> was it the appearance during the fast of robert kennedy that catapulted the union and his crusade to a more national audience? >> i think absolutely, yes. the fast takes place in march of 1968. this is about 2 1/2 years into the grape strike, and he's begun to become somewhat of a nationally known figure, particularly the march to sacramento in 1966, and certain other events. but the fast is a tremendous organizing opportunity. he fasts for 25 days. the place where he fasts, which is the union headquarters, becomes basically a shrine. there are nightly masses. there are people walking on their knees up the path to the 40 acres.
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and it was attracting tremendous media attention for the first time. then bobby kennedy coming to break the fast, it is an iconic picture, probably the picture that more people have seen than any other. it still gets used a lot today. the kennedy name was, you know, enormous at that point in time. it also comes about a week before kennedy announces that he was running for president. so it also ties the ufw into their first political campaign. chavez and the union go out and do door-to-door campaigning, particularly in los angeles, and help kennedy win the primary. they're there in the ambassador hotel when he gets shot. so it was important for those political reasons. probably more -- i see the fast as a turning point in the history of the movement. i always quote the reverend jim drake, who was one of chavez's top advisers. he was a minister. he said chavez was too saintly
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to make mistakes after the fast. i think it is an important concept. you know, this was sort of thrust on him, to some degree, and he certainly embraced the image of the suffering and the penance, and that was part of the marching, as well. he believed when you sacrificed, it was such a powerful force, it forces other people to want to help you. and i think it did. >> was he a very religious man, or was it the fact that they appropriated a lot of the religious -- >> i think it was both. i think it was a tactic, certainly. i mean, obviously, it was a real thing. he grew up in a catholic home. his mother was very quite religious in a sense of mexican catholicism, which has its own cultural resonance for people.
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so it was important to him, but he also used it tremendously effectively. i mean, you have to remember that when the strike starts in 1965, the catholic church in california is not supporting the farm workers union. you know, now we think of the church as being on their side, but the pillars of the -- the financial pillars of the church were the growers. so they were really loathe to do anything over it. there are a lot of great files that the archdiocese of fresno kept that show all of the letters that the growers are writing to the bishop saying, you know, get these people out of here. what's going on, and so on. so lacking support from the church, and knowing how important -- you're trying to convince very poor mexican farm workers who are scared of speaking out in favor of the union because they're risking their jobs and their homes and,
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you know, their brace of the chd having the support was really important. he does that. so he does this brilliant thing of using the banner of guadeloupe everywhere he goes, and particularly in the march. people are not necessarily familiar with california, but they walk up the spine of the san joaquin valley, through the farm worker towns. everywhere they go, every night there is a rally. there is a performance. the church has to open their doors to these farm workers. i mean, these are the penitents. it's during lent. so it was brilliant. you know, ultimately, the church comes around and the bishops support them and so on, but it took a while. >> at the same time that this is happening, there was a lot of discussion as to the
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non-violence that they used in the strikes and the boycotts, et cetera. now, you mentioned that there was violence at times among the farm workers. there were acts of sabotage against the growers. manuel chavez, a relative of cesar, was quite relentless. perhaps i'm reading too much into this, but i sense the emotional violence that many volunteers must have felt when they were dismissed from the movement. must have caused a lot of emotional violence. >> ruthlessness was not a foreign concept, shall we say, right? i think that manifested itself in different ways. one of the reasons chavez was so effective was his single-minded focus and intensity. i think that got communicated to his followers and people
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interpreted that in different ways. people who had been part of movements or read about them may identify this. you know, if you believe and you are led to believe by this leader who is a tremendous force for you that, you know, anything goes in the interest of getting this, this victory, sometimes people do things in the name of the movement or on behalf of the movement that would not have been sanctioned, and sometimes people just look the other way. when i talked to growers who lived through this era, one of the things that makes them the most angry and the first thing they always say is, you know, this was not a non-violent movement. and they're right, to a degree. there was a lot of -- there was a sort of understanding that violence against property was okay. violence against people wasn't. if you're a grower and your life is your vineyard, and somebody comes and takes a machete and chops down the vines, you're pretty angry about that.
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so, you know, there was a degree of violence. >> during this time, i lived in crystal city, texas. we were privileged at that time to have a performance by el campicino. valdez came and group his troupe of actors. we were pleased of that, very proud of it. little did we know that chavez had sort of distanced himself from them and luis had been told that it came second, not first. they were dismissed. in reading your book, i discovered this bit of information, and i wondered if you would clarify some of that for us. the relationship that cesar had
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with people that were all for the union, all for la calza and yet were, in a sense, similarly dismissed. >> so luis valdez was an interesting and important figure in the movement in its early years. for people who might not know his name, he was a form worker born in labor camp. his family moved to san jose and had great personal sacrifice, making sure their kids went to high school and college. he was a migrant farm worker as a kid. goes to san jose state, becomes a promising playwright. was working with the san francisco mime troupe in '65 when the strike starts. part of a radical group in the san francisco bay area. that's an important part of the story, too, i think, because, again, the things didn't happen in a vacuum. it was the civil rights movement was very strong, and a lot of the early support that made the
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union successful came out of that sort of particularly san francisco area. so luis valdez has to decide. he's 25. his play is about to be produced on off broadway. he has to decide, does he go to new york or back to help to farm workers? he tells cesar he wants to do a play. cesar says, we have no money, no performers, but do what you wone university of california at santa barbara put together that has video that you can see them online. it is really terrific. he starts this farm worker theater where they improvise and do skits. he is teaching theater to farm workers who many of them are not literate. but they can perform. they're naturals. then the theater becomes
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immensely popular, both as entertainment and also for education. you know, so he is teaching basic concepts. what is a contract? how does this work? what is a union? it becomes more and more popular, and he is a rival force to cesar chavez, not because he wants to run the labor union but as a credible voice for farm workers. he also sort of embodies the more radical element of the movement. not in terms of their politics interfering but in their independence. so if any of you know or have dealt with people who are real politically active, they have strong opinions. there comes a period of time in 1967 when those opinions are not really welcome. chavez, i think, never particularly believed in a democratic organization. he did a good imitation in the earlier years of being a democracy, but it never really
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was a democracy. so in 1967 are the first purges. luis valdez did a great session with me at the los angeles public library earlier this week, which is also online, and he talks publicly for the first time in that video -- audio, rather, of being purged. i found all the records. he told me the story, but then i actually found the written minutes of the meetings and who said what and what the votes were and so on. that helped me to tell that story in a really authentic way from documents. i think it is really significant. he never talked about it. no one -- people who were purged in general did not talk about it because that was the ethos. that you didn't want to do anything that would hurt the union. and luis, throughout his life, has always supported the ufw and continued to do so, but the emotional impact on him, of being thrown out and not talking about that, i think, you know,
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was something that took him a long time to work through, as well. >> another thing that strikes me as interesting is the fact that many of the workers at some point were no longer farm workers that were in the positions of the ruling board, et cetera. it seemed to go against his original idea that it should be made up of farm workers deciding for themselves and ruling for themselves. it seems that at some point he decided, like he did earlier on in the cso days, that he didn't want anyone telling him how to run something. is that an accurate -- >> that's really accurate. i mean, he even talks on the tapes at some points about saying when he becomes frustrated with the battles he is having with the board
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members, he says, i feel i'm back exactly where i was in the cso. you know, that was exactly what he did not want. so the lack of farm worker participation in the leadership goes back to that idea that if you give them power, they may make decisions that are not the ones you want. it becomes a struggle between the movement and the union and ultimately leads to the demise of the ufw as a viable labor union. >> at some point, chavez becomes a national figure. partly due to the boycotts of -- national boycotts that are held all across the country. would you tell us more about how that really became a symbol of his successes? >> sure. let me do the boycott quickly because we want to, i think, leave time for questions. i'll do a short boycott story. again, to me, this shows his
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brilliance and him at his best. in that what we did for the great boycott that made it so effective was to send mexican-american farm workers across the country. never beenon planes. didn't have support. telling them, stop the sale of grapes. on its face, it seems like an insane idea. yesterday, the smart, creative ones were able to tap into communities of support and build networks and ultimately put enough pressure on the supermarket chains. in 1970, that ends the strike and achieves contract. the supermarkets go back to the growers and say, you know, we just can't deal with this boycott nonsense anymore. you need to solve your labor problems. so it is sort of the height of creativity and also ultimately creates the problems that come up later. then the union has always the contracts and they have to figure out how to run them.
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>> okay. i think we have time now for some questions from the audience. perhaps you can bring up issues we haven't addressed so far. yes? >> the role of the -- >> i'll bring a mic. >> the role of the filipino-americans. you haven't mentioned that. >> yes. >> can you repeat the question? >> yeah. her question is the role of the filipinos in the strikes. i think they originally had started the -- >> the filipinos had their own union. in 1965, the filipinos start the strike. the filipino union walks out on strike, then goes to chavez and asks him to support. the filipinos play an important role. ultimately, the two unions are merged in '66. the filipinos, i think, always felt like second class citizens in a mexican-controlled union. there was effort to bridge the differences, but their
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leadership never is very happy. larry, the most prominent and strongest organizer for the filipinos in delano ends up leaving in great frustration. i write about his comments, remarks, and his unhappiness, when he felt that chavez could not delegate and would not delegate, and that. so the filipinos become marginalized. chavez, in an effort to sort of do something about it in a misguided effort goes in 1977 to the philippines as a guest of ferdinand marcos. that becomes a tremendously polarizing event, as well. and praises martial law. anyway, there's quite a bit about the film -- we haven't talked about it -- but there is an important part of the story with the filipinos. >> i believe part of the meetings were held in filipino hall. >> absolutely. >> for the most part. i believe that the filipino community has denounced part of
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the film because the filipinos were shown in the background and not in the forefront. i believe when the growers finally signed the contract, i think it was de la cruz? >> larry was right there. >> sitting next to chavez. he was one of the people that signed. yet, in the film, he is shown in the background. >> miriam, you shared before the presentation you had worked as an agricultural reporter for the "los angeles times." two questions. the first is, how much did you physically retrace the path of cesar chavez when you were doing your research? did you spend time in san jose, delano, in libraries in bakersville, sacramento, los angeles. i asked if you talked to his brother, but apparently not. the second question is, in your extensive research, is there one
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nugget you found about cesar chavez's life that the public doesn't know but should? >> okay, two questions. yes, absolutely, yes, i went everywhere. i climbed out in yuma, the ruins of the house. they're kind of crumbled walls of the house where he was a child. his grandfather's estate. so i went,went. place is really important when you're writing. these places still exist so, yes, i retraced all of that. the nugget that i like is that in 1969, he was flat on his back. he couldn't move. he has this tremendous -- he was in tremendous pain. he had been in traction and all sorts of things. he couldn't sit up in bed. there's a picture. there are cool pictures in the book i also found in the ar kief archives. there's one of him on his back, and there is a bar to lift himself up with the bar. so finally, the kennedy family doctor, dr. travel, who treated president kennedy for his back, comes to delano to try to help.
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she watches him walk, and she sees right away that he is crooked. he has this sort of, you know, extreme case of asymmetry. she tells him this. he is so relieved. now, it is a simple solution, you can even out your shoe. she also tells him he has a venus demilo foot was his second toe is longer. the reason we know this is he taped it. the fact to me that, you know, here is a man who is flat on his back, tremendous pain, and has the presence of mind in terms of preserving his own history, to turn on a tape recorder. 40 years later, whatever it is, i'm sitting in the library listening to this tape. so that was, for me, kind of sum summed up the remarkableness of the man and also writing the book. >> yes? >> did you research the role that san antonio played in the
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united farm workers movement? >> to a limited degree. i did interview antonio, the head of the texas farm workers, and there's some information about him in the book. i do deal in the book with the degree to which, in both arizona and texas, independent organizations formed and tried to function as unions. chavez basically sort of undercut them in a lot of ways by making sure that they didn't get funding. so there's a battle over -- there is a turf battle. because he wanted to be the sole voice for farm workers. so ultimately, you know, the idea was it would be a national union. that was the goal. but they could never effectively run california well enough to really expand. then kind of batted down the efforts that grew up in texas and arizona. >> the texas farm workers had a hunger strike at the capitol back in 1978. they also had a march to
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washington, which i believe you're familiar with. and at the time, i remember speaking to antonio. he said that they wanted to represent all farm workers, both u.s. citizens and mexican workers. cesar did not want that. he only wanted u.s. american farm workers to be represented. >> that was a big philosophical difference between the two groups, too, yeah. last question. >> excuse me. my question has to do with unions. taft tartley act in the late '40s was a poor act because when you strike, an alternative is for managers to come in to do the job. i'm wondering whether that was evident after striking and,
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therefore, they strategized to do the boycott. >> that's right. >> or was it more complicated? >> the farm workers with excluded from the national relations board. because they were excluded from the act, they were able to do secondary boycotts. something that was perceivd by the growers as being an advantage was a benefit to the farm workers. >> why were they excluded? >> that's a complicated story, yeah. >> as a nurse, i'm interested in pesticides and declining health. these farm workers, the close proximity they were to the crops that used -- i consider cesar chavez the pioneer in organics. >> in many ways, it was part of -- >> i'd glad my kids didn't eat grapes. >> it is his visionary nature. before people were talking about
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organic food, he was doing his own composting. he became a vegetarian and used to fight against pesticides. both out of conviction and as a tactic. i think we're done. >> i think we're done. i'd just like to ask one more question of miriam. what is chavez's legacy? >> his legacy is not in the fields, but his legacy is a generation of activists who learned from him and have taken the knowledge and gone elsewhere. and for the farm workers empowered by his union, that was also a tremendous experience. and as a figure for, a hero for latinos throughout the country. i think all of that is
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