tv Latinos and the Civil Rights Movement CSPAN August 29, 2017 9:41am-11:11am EDT
united states. >> race from the road on cspan. you're watching american history tv all weekend every kweekd on cspan 3. with for more like us on facebook. next, bakersfield teaches a class a he's lass is about an hour and a half. >> today we'll talk about the delayno. . i am going to talk a little bit about if topic. i will sigh a few words about my
own research, how i cam to pursue a right in civil rights history. we'll talk about a document i had to read before coming to class. we'll also talk about your histories. that's sort of the way the next hour or so will progress. i want to start off by saying a few general marks, what i take away from the course of the evening. i will try to be fwoeld in my it is one of the most pi some might tang it a step firth and say they conducted the most
successful boycott since the beginning of this country. it's a really landmark significant event on national and international scale. another take away that i want you to leave with tonight is this is a united states history survey course and if you think about everything you learned up until this point, much of it has been foe udenned it is into the society, right? we talked about northern industrialism. we haven't talked a lot about the american west. we talked a little bit about the incorporation but we haven't talked a lot about the american west. that's one way i want you to think about tonight's lecture is that we are try to go integrate
and intert into stories about the united states, right, in the 20th century. in terms of civil rights history, you might recall last week we talked ability the cold car, right? it is a struggle between capitalism and we connected it fwa -- because two things. it created a in terms of the government. commonist countries were using the conditions of black people as propaganda so you would have the soviet union and dmien, hi in the united states. let's make sure we have civil
classes right down in bakersfield. you'll be in the walter stern library. that's who this man is. his name the walter stern. one of the most fascinating, he was a democrat, very progressive, had the support of labor unions here in the central valley where he represented over two deck cays. he was getting in the late 190s. he this award really two maers. and so i always find that absolutely hilarious. in of it is kind of a cultural back water.
again, for stern's point even though he had been in the state capital trying to make things happen his contributions were marginal. we didn't really talk about buck owens. you remember a few lextures and you remember how the great depression was solved. we talk about the agriculture act and fram government, sending money in to stop production so piemt pooem fine themselves? no. a blot of them go look work in california. he k50i7d of similar pog o palized the west ward okies.
he passed away about a decade ago. his musics symbolized bakersfield sound. sit from nashville which produce add lot of great country stars. the story of the okie swas movig something large. i found something interesting. of course the other side is about cesar chavez. here you can see him on the cover of time magazine and the way that journalists referred to schavez is he cymbasymbolized m
americans the wayen journalists would refer to meks dan de1e7b9, they called them to sleeping joint. what does that mean? what it meant at the time is that latinos aren't necessarily politically active. right? they don't tend to be involved in civic affairs, right? that was the ter the people were suddenly becoming engaged, fighting for their rights but also mobilizing for politicians, right? we'll 25uk maybe a little bit about this litter. one of the best friends of the chavez family is the kennedy family. and so my point there is that
chavez is challenges that ster y -- stereo type. when this polemic shaped my learning as a student of history, right? and when i went to graduate school, i went to graduate school at uc santa barbara, and they make you read a lot of books in graduate school, and i'll talk about what i read in graduate school and how it relates to what we're talking about tonight. a lot of you did family histories. i kind of feel it's maybe unfair that maybe you don't know a little bit about my family, right, and why i'm making you do this assignment. my mother's family, this is a picture of my mother's family, her mother is one of the babies that's sitting on the lap. they were displaced from mexico after 1910 during the mexican revolution, as were many mexican families who wanted to avoid the
problems of a war-torn country, right? this is an image that was taken across the border. you can see they're very well-dressed. this would be the early 1920s. and this is a photograph later in the 1940s of the descendants of that same family. my grandmother is the woman in the upper left hand corner. and when they came to the united states, they came as farm workers, right? they went to southern california, worked in oranges there for many years. then eventually my grandmother migrated up to the central valley where we are today. and she married my grandfather, and they lived in button willow. i don't know if any of you know your central valley geography. button willow is about 20 miles west of bakersfield. and it was a company town. i don't know if you know what a
company town is. you have to think back a few lectures, right? company towns were small towns that were more or less founded by companies and their workers, right? so button willow was a product of the miller luxe company. i actually mentioned the miller luxe to you in one of our earlier lectures. this was a company based on out of san francisco. in the 19th century, early 20th century, they owned much of the land and they raised cattle. my grandfather worked as an accountant for that company. that's the sum of the story of how my mother's family came to settle in the central valley. and again, they had a connection to agriculture. and i'll come back in a little bit, maybe say a little bit more about my grandfather. my father's side of the family, they were not displaced by the
mexican revolution, but they migrated as railroad workers. so again, if you think back to some of our earlier lectures, when we talked about railroads, right, the growth of railroads during the industrial age, late 19th century, i mentioned that the railroads not only went east to west, but they went north to south. that's absolutely critical, right? so you have the railroads going from chicago to nebraska and kansas, down to el paso. and then south into mexico, right? and there was no border prior to 1924. it was a porous border. so my family crossed in the 1870s, and then the sons would follow their fathers, right? and then they wound up working at the southern pacific railroad station, which is in southeast bakersfield. it's not operative today, it's basically like an historical relic. there's lots of folks in the
historical society in bakersfield that wants to make that old depot on sumner and baker into a historical monument but there is not a lot of money for that right now. if you go there, again, it's a historical relic. this is the men who worked on the railroad. i'm not going to try to point out my grandfather, i can see him but there's a lot of men up there. that's my father's side. one of the themes that emerged for me is that my mother's side, you have the connections to agriculture, and then through my father's side you kind of had a more urban, a more industrial history, right? so that's two themes i started to see. but i also asked myself, you know, this doesn't fit within that polemic i was talking about at the start of the lecture, right? this isn't okie history. this isn't necessarily history connected to the united farm workers. i had to inevitably ask myself, does the history matter at all? i came to find out through my
research that it absolutely did, that's what i want to unpack for you. let me explain a little bit about how i came to that process. after i graduated from college at berkeley, i started graduate school, first at cal state bakersfield, then eventually i traveled to uc santa barbara. i was always attracted to colonial history but i couldn't imagine myself researching the records of puritans, on even slave ship records. i wanted to do something that was maybe closer to home, that i could connect to. i was always fascinated by the civil rights movement. we talked about that last week. the image you see is 1963. martin luther king jr., the march on washington for jobs and justice. your textbook talks about this. martin luther king jr. as a community organizer got his start, if you will, after the brown versus board of education decision, right? so you remember that the brown decision overturned the plessy decision which had sanctioned racial desegregation. and earl warren ruled that
segregation was inherently unequal and created an inferiority complex among children, african-american boys and girls. enter king, and the southern christian leadership conference. and they started to try to integrate society in the south. one of their first targets was bussing, right? they used a boycott, right, this is one of the themes i'm trying to establish for you, they used a boycott of the southern bussing -- excuse me, the bussing system in montgomery, alabama, right? you had large numbers of african-americans who rode the bus every day to go to work. what the acl did and king did is they encouraged those african-americans not to ride the bus. what did that do? it affected the bottom line of those bussing companies and they couldn't segregate anymore because they were losing money. that was a major victory for king and his organization. and from 1956 they went on to try to integrate other industries and places in the south. it culminated in 1964, '65, when
the federal government is going to pass the first civil rights legislation that really had some teeth in 1964, and then the voting rights act in 1965. so as interesting and as fascinating as i found that history, as somebody from bakersfield, as somebody from the american west, i kind of view this as another country, right? i had never been to the south. the story is very black and white. i had some trouble connecting to it even if i found it interesting and fascinating to read.
other things that really got me going as a student of history were the stories of malcolm x, right, and the struggle for black people to secure rights and liberties and economic self-sufficiency in the north. as fascinating as malcolm x is, it's a northeastern story. he's a muslim. i'm a lapsed catholic. i had some trouble connecting to the story even if i found it interesting or found it fascinating. for the purposes of our class tonight and your notes, one of the things you might note about the difference between malcolm x and martin luther king jr., and this relates to cesar chavez, of course, martin king was a practitioner of nonviolence, right? so the boycott itself is a strategy of protest through nonviolence, right? king believed in the power of love, right? and almost like moral persuasion, that you can shame
your enemy into changing their ways. malcolm x had a different philosophy of protest. he believed that if you were being attacked violently by the state or by the ku klux klan or by racist neighbors, that you were perfectly within your rights to defend yourself, by violence if necessary, right? so again, there is another dichotomy there that i found interesting but again, i had some trouble relating to. as i progressed in graduate school, i was fortunate enough in the last ten years to read some books that helped to really broaden my perspective and horizons about how the story of the american west fit within the civil rights narrative that we've been talking about the last two weeks. i wanted to lay out the themes for you. they connect in concrete ways to the work you guys are doing in your oral history projects. so randy shaw, in 2007, 2008, published a book called "beyond
the fields." at this time in 2008, 2009, i had just finished some of my coursework at uc santa barbara. i came back to bakersfield to do some research. i actually got to teach a class at the university. and so i assigned some of the scholars that i'm going to mention right now. and his book was definitely one of them. he had a great thesis in it. it was basically that some of the most progressive social justice movements in recent history across the united states have been directly linked to the united farm workers. when you look at the lgbtq movement, justice for janitors, the growth of latino california politics, all these organizers were trained first in the unity farm workers in delano. that's the brilliance of this book, when you're looking at the legacy of the farm worker movement, you have to connect it to these other social justice
movement struggles. that was a great, great text. frank bartike, like shaw, they're not historians per se, but they were activists. these were people who were community organizers who went on to write books about the work that they had done in their career. so bartike's story was super interesting. he was a berkeley student, anglo man, fluent in spanish. and eventually kind of dropped out of school to pursue farm labor organizing and farm worker itself. he was very attracted to the union. and he helped to organize farm workers in the salinas valley where the ufw also had a presence. and this book, "trampling at the vintage," it's 800 pages, really, really long. but some of the more interesting facets of the book that people are really, you know, attracted to, is one of the tensions that exists within the farm worker movement story, right? and that is the tension between
a union and strike breakers, or between a union and what a lot of you talked about in your papers, undocumented labor, right? we talk a little bit about the rucera program, a lot of you are descendants of ruceras. it's the world war ii program that encouraged guest workers to fill the labor shortage during the war. the program winded up lasting really through the 1960s. and it made organizing farm workers very difficult, right? it's very hard to form a union that is effective when growers can easily bring in undocumented people or ruceras to break strikes. that was a problem, a tension, as i said, between the farm worker movement in history and then the stories of undocumented peoples. and again, a lot of you talk about this in your oral histories and i have many students talk about it. bartike's book is one of the first texts to bring that to
light. two other books that i think are important in trying to understand this history. miriam paul, she's former journalist for "the los angeles times." her book, "the union of their dreams," interviews through oral history a handful of people who were key activists within the ufw. it's a multiracial group, she interviews filipinos, mexicans, whites, it's a diverse book. she captures their story and tries to argue that in order to understand the history of the union, he need the stories of ordinary people, right? that's one reason i have you do this oral history assignment. it's because the story of the farm worker movement is much broader than just cesar chavez. there's ordinary people who made it movement go. that's what her book is designed to do. she also wrote one of the first biographies, a full biography of cesar chavez from birth to
death. two books i read that are critical to understanding the diverse legacy of the farm worker movement, one i really like, "to march for others: the black freedom struggle and the united farm workers," this look takes a looks at the alliances between african-americans and the ufw. i've had some students talk about it in the past. the black panther party was one of the biggest supporters of the united farm workers, right? they helped run their boycotts in california communities, especially in the bay area up in oakland. her book kind of walks you through how african-americans interpreted and aligned themselves and in some cases didn't align themselves with the united farm workers. it's a brilliant, brilliant book. another text, "from the jaws of victory," the real contribution of this text in my mind is he chronicles the history of the
boycott as a strategy, right? so when you think about the united farm workers and the strategies of protest that they used, there's really two that are defining. the strike and the boycott. a strike, to give you a definition, is to, you know, not go on to the work site, right? to try to keep people from crossing your picket line, right? that's how you affect your employer, to give you higher wages. you have to convince people not to cross that picket line, to not go to work. one of the more influential strategies was the boycott. so that's what his book talks about, how the boycott emerged as a strategy. what is a boycott? to refresh your memories, it's when you prevent the consumption, right, of a particular product. in this case it was grapes. all of you go outside of this classroom and you look across the fields, what do you see, right? grape fields. do the people of delano and kern
county consume all those grapes? absolutely not. it's a world market. this is what the ufw did, which was absolutely brilliant, is they sent poor farm workers from delano to new york, to chicago, to canada, to europe, where all the marketplace was for california table grapes. and they went to stores, they went to consumers, and they convinced them not to buy those grapes, because if you did, what were you doing? you were reinforcing inhumane working conditions for farm workers. latino bakersfield bakersfield. se czar sha vez. cha vez. chavez. delores huerta. rosales rosales. chavez. says sar ceasar chavez. delano. delano. delay know. delano. delano delano. delano. cesar cesar chavez. chavez. huerta. hat know. latino. delano. you prevent the consumption of a particular product. in this case it was grapes. so if you go outside of this classroom and look across the
fieldings what do you see. grape fields. do the people of delano consume all of those grapes. no. absolutely not. it's a world market. this is what they did. which is brilliant. they sent poor farm workers from delano. to new york. to chicago. to canada. to europe. where all the marketplace was for california table grapes. and they went to stores they went to consumers and they convinced them not to buy those grapes because if you did, what with were you doing. reip forcing. so his text talk abouts the evolution of the boycott strategy. so again to kind of recap that, these are some of the books i read in graduate school. that i liked a lot. but still i had some trouble relating to it because as i mention with my own family, my father's side we weren't farm workers and i didn't say this about my mother's side but my grandmother i remember asking my mother about this.
and my grandmother in her old age. she was absolutely not a supporter of cesar cha she has and the farm worker market. she used to cross the picket line at safe way all the time to buy grapes. according to to her no one was going to tell her where she could and couldn't shop. again i know this from your old history, many of you talk to people who were supporters of the efw. involved in the union. others who were some cases hostile to the union. and i think we'll talk about that maybe towards the end of class. but i want to talk about my own research. i want pay painting the picture about the research that's out there. and how i carved out a small space for myself as a historian researching labor and civil rights in the west. so as a graduate student, one of the defining things you have to do is find primary sources. which is what you're going it oral history. you have a primary source in the perp you talk to. as i started to dig around i found some very cool fascinating stuff. i want to share a few pieces with you. this particular image comes from
downtown bakersfield in 1965. and this is a memorial march in solidarity with martin loouter king jr. he's assassinated in 1968. this is 1965. it's a march in bakersfield to sew solidarity and support for what's happening in the south. what happened at this event in bakersfield too was a recognition of what was happening in the county. not only with the strike but for a broader agenda of civil rights reform that was happening locally. so to get a thousand people in the street is not easy, right? there was an organization locally called the coalition for civic unity. they organized this strike. they got the thousand bodies in the street. and so as i started to rerge this organization more, i uncovered like a treasure-trove of material that this organization this civic unity movement had been in bakersfield since the late 1940s and had been vaktive in organizing people of color to integrate bakersfield in a variety of ways. and i'll highlight a few. since the 1940s sdp the 1950s. and that was fascinating to me. because when i had studied i said civil rights history in the
west, all you really hear about is the story of cesar chavez. you don't find out there was a deeper concurrent movement that was happening on the ground locally. and what i argue in my research is that in order to understand the true legacy of civil rights history in this part of the american west, central california. where the ufw was active. you need to understand the connection to the local urban history that i'll describe to you. so as i mention, the kccw. promoted racial integration. that was one of the big agendas. so what exactly is racial integration like that's just a term. let's give it meaning. let me give it meaning by talking about school. that's the easiest way to do it. so one of the chapters in my dissertation had to do with the desegregation of the bakersfield city school district. i mention this to you last week that the school district today is the largest elementary school district in the state of california. it's a very large district. and this particular photograph comes from po to mac. 1953. you see the teacher and you see the students. and what do you notice about the
students if you look at their faces, right? . they tend to be children of color, right? a lot of african american boys and girls and some mexicans sprinkled throughout. my father, that's a why i show the picture. is the boy on the top with the two patches right here on the breast. that's my father. and my father had seven siblings and they all went to bakersfield schools 6789 i started talking to my aunts and uncles. and i looked at their yearbooks. it was an absolutely wonderful experience. i knew what racial segregation was. but to really see it in the photographs was very powerful experience. so again my family attended predominantly racially segregated schools. black and lat toe.
from the 1930s to the 50s. if you think about the date this is 53. this is prior to the brown decision. this also is california. and we talked about the men dez case. remember the case we mentioned this last week. southern california, 1947, 48. mexican schools were over turned arguing you couldn't segregate mexican kids because they were technically white by the census. this is the thing i learned in the process of my dissertation. that separated the story of the south from the west. so when you're looking at segregation in the american south. it's called segregation by law. so that's where you have the drinking fountains for white and black. the signs, right? or you have hard segregation was local ordnances. you didn't get that out west. it's what scholars call de facto segregation. i can write the terms on the board. analytically they might be useful to you. as you do some research.
de facto versus. segregation by custom. so it's by practice by will. what i found in doing research is that that's kind of not true. that there were very much public policies that were in place. that segregated kids of color. one of them obviously is labor. so you tend to live near your job. and if your job doesn't hire people of color or only hires people of color, you're going to live in a certain part of town. that's one commonality that separated blacks and latinos in bakersfield frs hiring practices. another that was critical was something called racial covenants. these were agreements between people who were buying property and selling property that again you would not sell your property to a person of color. if you were to sell the deed on your house. there were certain parts of town that people of color were absolutely not allowed to buy property in.
so as i dug a little bit deeper i started to find this in bakersfield. this is another primary source that i unearthed in my research process. at the library from downtown bakersfield. the brilliant thing about this particular map is it shows you the city limits of bakersfield. so the city limits are the hard lines there and the white dots that are inside the dots symbolizes 20 persons. you can see the black dots are people on the outside of the city. and so one of the points that i
mention when e talk about the migration was that the population of california but especially the central valley, grew dramatically in the late 1930s and early 1940s. you had oak not just white. but black. and also mexicans. the chavez family was misplace and had jointed the migrant trail into california in the 30s. so as i said the population grew dramatically in bakersfield in the 30s and 40s. i think this census map captures a little bit of that. my favorite part of this map is i know it might be hard to see. so i'll walk over here. this right here, does anyone no what this street is? i would be very impressed. anybody know what the street is? >> union. >> very good. absolutely.
and then do you know what this street is? california. oh you guys are really good. you know your geography. now days, that part of town if you can go to union and california in your mind. like, what does it look like. you tend to have poverty, motels, prostitution, drugs. what was that part of town? historically. this was the african american enclave. and you can see it's just right outside the city limits. but the city fathers right the city counsel deliberately excluded this part of town because it was known as the black part of town. they were not allowed to buy property within city limits. part of my research looked at the struggle of that community to join the city. what are some of the benefits in being part of city?
there are certain tax benefits that might go along with it, service, sewer lines, fire department, police. that might go alone. services. suer lines. fire department. police. all the things become civil rights struggles for ordinary people living on the outskirts of bakersfield. to go back to the map if you look across the river, that's oil dell. i'm not going to talk a lot about oil dell other than a few points. i remember growing up as a kid, i didn't go to oil dale. why didn't you go? well you ask your older brothers or uncles or parents and they tell you, well, they're not very kind to people who might look like you. oil dale had a reputation as being what they called a sunset town. meaning if you were a person of color, you didn't let the sun go down on you in the community.
taft also a sunset community. you didn't want to be caught there after dark if you were a person of color. particularly african american. in fact, the first african american didn't attend north high until 1962. that's one of the things i learned. had a very active kkk chapter. my point is this is some of the things i was unearths through trying to study labor and civil rights. it was connected to this deeper history of racial segregation and also racial integration. so as i said, going back to this slide. the civic unity movement was the flag ship organization to promote racial integration in the labor market in the housing market in bakersfield. they were also some of the biggest supporters of cesar chavez and the farm worker movement. early on when the farm workers movement was a fledging union. barely surviving off donations of other people. you have the urban based
movement with lawyers, attorneys. people who had diz posable income channelling support to at that time the national farm workers association. a couple other points i want to share with you. just to get you thinking about this place before we shift to other things. i mentioned to you in a previous lecture when we talked about the oakky. lang was a famous photographer. she worked for the government. capturing of what was happening to agricultural workers. she snapped the famous migrant mother image on stamps and whatnot. she spent time in southeast bakersfield. so the photographs i'll show you now come from her kind of chronicling what was happening to the african american migrant population in that part of town. these are students as i recall the caption read walking home from the current high school district. if you look around you can see what that area looked like. no paved roads, in some cases
there was very poor sewage. poor sanitation. and you have the communities that were pretty much entirely racially segregated. so that gives you insight into what the communities might have looked like prior to them joining the city limits. i really like these as well. this one shows you really what's essential hi like a shack. that would have been rented by african american cotton workers and cotton wood. which again is in the southeast part of bakersfield. and when i see these images as a historian the thing that jumps out to me is wow, the condition of migrant farm workers for african americans hasn't changed that much since the end of slavery. even by 1940s. the standards of living are very poor. and so that's a way that as a historian i began to connect the story of was co. or the story of southeast bakersfield to the story of african americans in the american south. i started to see a real
connection there. this is an up close blow up of the previous slide tla i showed you with the little boy standing in front of the wood shack there. this particular image gives you a sense of what the streets might have looked like. very impovished communities. again there's a point of comparison. trying to analyze poverty. again on both sides of the border. like a will the of you were talking about how the migration to the united states was a story of mobility upward. i don't discount that. in some cases, the mobility takes generations to actually achieve. it doesn't occur with the migrants but maybe their children. so i want to talk about the war on poverty. because again this is another subject that's very large within
u.s. history. that's one of the points i'm trying to get you thinking about today. how the story of the farm workers is connected to broader currents within u.s. history. so i told you i talk about school integration. in my dissertation and the battle to integrate the schools in the bcsd. i have a section that deals with the war on poverty. 1964, linn don towards the end of his life, john kennedy was becoming very progressive. he was early years as president, very hesitant in some ways to overly support civil rights actors. but he definitely moved towards that prior to his assassination. when john son comes into office he tries to bring forth the spirit that kennedy wanted to enact. launching a war on poverty.
so when you're looking across the united states in 1960s. it's a period of economic growth for certain segments of society. but for others it's absolutely not. johnson had a belief that if we're the richest country in the world we shouldn't have people lifing in some of the conditions i have described to you. in kern county the same organization that i was talking about the kern civic unity movement was a coalition of many different organizations. one of those organizations was called the community service organization. and the community service organization is where chavez cut his teeth as an organizer. before he organized farm workers. and so there was an organization of the cse in bakersfield.
a statewide organization. also spread beyond california as well. and the cso was an early organization working through the civic unity movement to gain federal money to fight poverty. how do you do that. it's a concept. how dwrou fight poverty. go into the communities i described to you and trying to report on the conditions that people actually lived in. so this fellow right here is the man named jes se and he was active within the cso. and he was a community organizer in southeast bakersfield. he did a variety of things from getting ordinary people to vote. getting them to attend city council meetings to be aware of how local policies were affecting them. when they got federal dollars to fight poverty. they were able to go in there and do concrete programs to try to improve the living conditions of the people of the southeast
bakersfield. and some of the biggest supporters of the union of the farm workers movement. to kind of dial this back to what we were talking about, at the beginning of the segment of the lecture. the farm worker movement we have talked about it tonight. but we haven't talked about it tonight. as i was trying to unpack what the story is before we talk about the plan of delano, as i said chavez mai dprated to california and joined the migrant circuit because of the depression. a lot of you know what the migrant circuit is. you follow the crops essentially. he became involved with the organization the cso community service organization. where he cut his teeth as a community organizers. it proved resistant to actually wanting to organize farm
workers. so he left the cso in the early 1960s and formed a new organization called the national farm workers association. delores huerta she has her office in downtown bakersfield. probably the most prominent latino american living today. still doing great work. was a cofounder of the organization. it wasn't a union yet. they weren't quite ready when they were founded to actually start a union. in 1965, i know some of you know this history, the philippines are going on strike. on september 8, 1965. and chavez and the nfwa join the fill philippine on the strike. to walk out on the fields in protest of higher wages. the strike will last five long years. along the way i told you the beginning of the lecture that the strategy shifts, right, from the strike to the boycott of grapes. but it takes five long years of farm workers organizing themselves, boycotting grapes,
protesting, trying to get consumers to not consume delano table grapes to really get the industry to finally agree to sign contracts. that does happen in 1970. so that's the kind of short history of the vfw. i want to spend a few minutes talking about valdez and the plan for delano. the document that i had you read. because i think this document captures some of the spirit of the time. the spirit of the 1960s. particularly when we're talking about mexican americans. and i want to say a few words about louis before i open this up to discussion. valdez is from the central valley. he went onto attend college in
the san francisco bay area. and when the strike was beginning in 1965, he made this conscious decision to leave the bay area in his education up there to come to delano. and work with chavez. and his contributions were many. beyond this document he was the founder of our farm workers theater. which helped to really gal voe vo niz the farm workers union. if you're on a strike line all day, you need something to entertain yourself. so people would perform skits. it was a way to communicate a message. many farm workers were illiterate. they didn't read. they tried to capture why it was important for farm workers to organize. later on in his life in career, he would go onto be a famous play write. he also directed something kul called. a. he's still doing really great work. he also coauthored the plan for
delano with chavez. and it's a very short document. and i went ahead and drafted a few questions. i want to throw them out there and open it up for conversation and comment that you might have about that particular document. and how it connects to your oral history. so, these are five questions that i posed about the document. i asked what specific reforms were being proposed by the union. a little bit of context in 1966, if you read the beginning of the document, the document was drafted during the march to sacramento. when the union was marching to
sacramento to pressure the governor and the legislature again to pay attention to the struggles of farm workers. chavez again when we're talking about a march, mlk jr. had done marchs in the south. and india. cesar knew about these things. he's implementing non-violent protests in the valley. what is injustice mean in the document? that word comes up repeatedly. i asked what is revolution mean in the context of the document. religion. what role does religion play in the movement. and finally. how does the plan deal with other ethnicities. the document mentioned this. let me open it up to you guys who read the text coming into class. what were some of your reactions to the text? >> don't be shy. yeah? >> i noticed he kind of implies that they're not treat as humans. dehumanized throughout the whole document. >> i would argue that dehumanization is absolutely a
theme that he's trying to e list sit in the text. that might raise other questions that many of you could tease out in your oral history. like how are farm workers dehumanized. what specifically makes farm labor almost an inhumane job. the way that's it's being described. that's a question that we can consider. what are other general reactions to the text? >> you talk about them actually creating an understanding by saying they're going to have a change in the whole, e i guess the workplace. but don't actually change it. they just talk about it. and after that they just still
treat them the same and nothing changes. >> remember this is 1966. a specific moment. your question or comment is related to -- ashly i'm sorry. your question about what are the changes that are actually being called for. it's really important to ground that in some kind of specific. one thing they're doing is looking for recognition. looking for growers to acknowledge there was a union. that's something growers didn't want to do. and that's one change that they're trying to call for. recognition from their employer. that there is a union among farm workers. >> they actually have a chance to also join them in the whole. >> yeah that people can join the union and employers will negotiate with the union. very good. what are other reactions to the text? so far we have on the table again the idea of workers being dehumanized and also one of the
changes that they're calling for is union recognition. what are other reactions to the text. >> one thing i did -- i was reading. i read that it said that they tried to get everything pretty much passed by without using violence and stuff like that. one thing i did realize what i was doing the oral presentation when i was talking to the person i interviewed, she said that she was actually one of the workers that would go work while they were striking. and one thing they would do is they would throw rocks the strikers would throw rocks and pretty much insult them for working. >> this is a really important issue. there are a few people who talk about this. during the strike phase in 66 was before the boycott, you would -- if you go out in the field and social security. >> reporter: imagine like a picket line of not only farm workers but
college kids. from out of town. trying to prevent workers from going into the work site. how do you do that. you can shout, you can scream, you can try to convince the workers come join our struggle. many people don't want to join the struggle. they want to work. they have to feed their families. they're not certain. they're scared. a lot of people talk about fear. here's another point about the violence. i know i have students talk about this. many people who participated in the movement, like many social movements of the era, were compelled to use tactics that were in some cases violent or destroying property. this is why cesar was really important. he held together a union based on non-violence. if in fact people within his movement were being violent, right? he was able to pressure them to stop that behavior. how it he do this?
through the fast. so he didn't vent this tactic. probably the most famous practitioner of this in modern history would be gandi. he decolonized india from the british empire. that was a violent struggle. one of the ways he kept the peace is said i'm going to fast until death. unless my followers stop being violent. they need to be peaceful to the colonizers. let the colonizer leave out the door willingingly. you don't have to throw rocks or bombs. i think what you're hinting at is a reality during the strike phase. it's very tense to be on the strike line. and violence works both ways. a lot of people in this room in your oral history talked about violence from the police. from the sheriffs. from growers, right? it goes both ways. again chavez through non-violence wanted to keep the peace. and again it was a struggle for
him. he did many fasts throughout his career. very good point though. other reactions to the text? these are very good so far. other reactions? don't be shy. yeah? >> i was wondering you know how there's people -- they prefer not to be violent at all. but what about the people who are too passive and don't they just accept it. fear or don't care. >> yeah let me respond to that. one thing you should note and i definitely thing that chavez understood this completely. i encourage everyone before you die, go up to la paz. which is the headquarters of the united farm workers. they have cesars office. that left just the way it is
when he passed away. chavez only had an eighth grade education. when you walk into his office, books. so he was highly educated and highly literate. and to answer your question, non-violence was not being passive. non-violence is a philosophical strategy. it's shaming your enemy to change their ways. again cesar was not pass aif at all. the ufw was not passive at all they wanted to engage the public engage the media to get people to cover this story. this was why internationally people today are studying delano. it was the special moment of activism. for that sleeping giant that we talked about. let me also complicate that by talking about fear, again. i got this from a lot of oral history. is for some families, right, who were undocumented. or for some families who were not part of the union, fear was a real driver of them during the era.
they didn't want to go join the union because there was a fear of being punished by your employer. in some cases people talk about the fear of being assaulted or accosted physically. it tended to work more at least with the oral history that i read from students over the years, where again they really feared being fired. or deported. for joining the union. those are the big fears that people who were my students who lived this history to their families that's something they reported. i made this comment in your papers for those who talk about fear as a theme to focus on. because this goes for all workers in the country. when you look at the history of labor. we talk about the homestead strike in the 1890s. workers took over karn gee steel works.
what happened to that strike, it was crushed by td employer. so again the idea of joining a union and the fear of doing that, it took tremendous courage to do it. but at the same time i understand the other side. i understand why people went to work. my grandmother was not a supporter of the union. she took it as a point a pride as a consumer to not be told by anybody where she could and couldn't shop. that was her outlook and world view. these are very good comments. others. there must be other issues. again i have questions on the board. maybe i can pick on a few of you. so i'll let me start with my si. you had a chance to work with some students maybe in your tutor sessions for the class. could you maybe say a few remarks about what are some of the issues that you saw students engaging with? >> i know a big part of the
chavez movement was the fact that violence did happen while on strike. that was a big part of most of the people that came and talked to me and the things that we discussed about it. and that also happened with some of my family members when they were -- my grandparents when they were working they were kind of assaulted by some of the people that were on strike. but they still realize that they were doing something that was for the good of all of them and they appreciated that. and there was other stuff that people were talking about especially the document was about religion and how they didn't only include just catholics since they were mexican. but they included all the other religions. >> absolutely. i'll address those two points. on the violence point, why was chavez so committed to non-violence? in part because people within the movement some of them were
pressuring to be mf more violent. as a leader of a social movement, he has to be very principled. in saying i am not going to have violence within my movement. that's -- he's not you knee in that. most leaders of social movements progressive movements again the question of violence versus non-violence was a big dilemma among social movement groups. chavez is known as being one of the more successful practitioners of non-violent at least in the united states. that might be a theme in your paper. the other point you mentioned. could you refresh me. >> religion. and they didn't exclude any other religions. >> this is in the text. so another cool thing that i encourage you to do. go to la paz. there it's a great monument that notes jews, christians, and muslims. because jews christians and muslims were part of the farm worker movement. from the organizers to the
participants. and again if you read the plan, it's very clear that this is an movement. not juts a catholic movement. it was not an exclusive organization. it was brought together by people of different faiths and different ethnic groups different racial groups. that's what made the farm worker movement very unique. in some ways in the 1960s. other movements tended to be more parochial. more focussed on one demographic group. you have the farm worker movement able to bring people together. i mentioned frank bart key the author of the book. he was at berkeley. why did he leave. that was the best public institution. why did he come to the fields of delano. there's other stories like this. marshall begans who is a lecture at harvard university. he's from bakersfield. he dropped out of harvard. to go join the movement. so that gives you a sense of gravity that the farm worker movement had in the 1960s.
one of the things that gave is real gravity and power is the religious element. and it's open to all. it's non-excluive. that was something that people remember about the ideaism of the 1960s. that's what i want you to leave with when you look about the text. this is an ideal document. it's painting a rosy picture of what kind of society, right, that farm workers want to envision for themselves. what are some other reactions to the text? >> i believe the reason this was so successful was because they were calling not just the farm workers in delano. they were calling farm workers from other states. negros, japanese. all those people. not just the people that were here. that is another reason it was so successful.
>> yeah, again in terms of the books that i mentioned. the ufw was not just a movement in the central valley. it is a national phenomenon. they're in texas, arizona, they're up in the midwest. it is regionally diverse. it's not just in delano. although this is the epicenter in some ways. ip to open up to more discussion. but i want to also stress one point before i forget. when we think ant farm worker organizing another thing to remember, is that there were efforts to organize farm workers before 1965. but we don't really remember them. because they didn't succeed. so that's really critical. farm worker movements generally failed. for a variety of reasons.
prior to to 1965 there was heavy organization from farm workers in the 1930s. but it kind of peters out for a variety of reasons. they don't last as unions. and this is what makes the united farm workers very significant. even today. they have a large presence. not only in organizing farm workers. they do a variety of things beyond organizing farm workers. one of the most impressive things they do is a they have a program that provides housing for the elderly. and this is like you want to live there. i took a tour with cesars grandson and i was just so impressed by the kind of community that they're building for the retired. so rather than having a farm worker population that is not part of labor laws, in the 1960s. they're outside the law in many ways they don't have the same kipd kind of protection that industrial workers have. they're outside the scope of
protection. they don't get social security. when you hit retirement age, do you have a safety net. no. you don't. you're at the mercy of your families. again the ufw in recent times has pyre pioneered the programs that provide retirement for farm workers. and it's a model program in my view. but again to round out that before we can open it up to discussion. i want to finish the point i was making what makes the ufw his torically significant. they were the first union to successfully organize farm workers and sign contracts. they survived they're around today. prior labor unions were not. are not around. that i died off. what are other comments and reactions to the text from -- maybe folks in this row. maybe i can pick on one of my favorites former students. dell ya, could you maybe your guest maybe react to some of the things we talk about.
or specifically the plan that we're talking about? >> well, i highly under lined the area with the that talked about the religion. the virgin the sacred cross and the star of david. and i liked how they emphasize how they wanted to make it known to the people that, you know, they wanted to protect their workers from greed. when i thought of that i thought of the bible the what is in the religious text is that greed is one of the roots of all evil. so, by, you know getting all these religious people or just making it known that they are protecting the people and protecting them from the root of the greed.
and making it known that hey anyone who, you know the star of david the sacred cross, they weren't bias. anyone was allowed to participate. and. >> no i actually really appreciate that point. two things i react to that. my advisor from is a man. he's actually going to be at bakersfield college on may 5th. i hope you come. one of the books he published was called "the gospel of cesar chavez." he put together a compilation of speeches, documents. that demonstrate the catholicism. and the movement to and out look on life and philosophy. so if you read the beginning of the document it notes that cesar edited this. and what you're referencing there in my view the point about greed and how greed and the how do you opposer was biblical over tones. that hits the question of revolution. what's really being called for
here is an overturning of an agricultural labor system, that's based on greed. and it's almost to redistribute that greed at the top to ordinary farm workers. that's the revolution that's being called for. and the way that you do that the way you sustain a movement to challenge that is partly through religion. tha going to bring people together. you mention the image of the virgin, they used to have mass in the fields. how do you pull people together to run a strike and commit to that. don't they need to go to church we have church in the fields. you get priests to come to the field and give the communion.
it's not just catholic priests. again this is some of the non-violent strategies that the union moved to make the revolution go. it was infusing that religious resolution go. was refusing that religious message. and that is pretty irradical. for some of you that hit on this, i have to mention this, i will put a resource on our web page called the caesar chavez special study report done by the federal government, the national park service. and it has a list of historic sites in delano. so for some of you who over the next few weeks as you revise your papers, one of the things that would make me very happy is if you consider going to some of these historical sites. one is the lady of guadeloupe church where the strike was held in 1965. and the church in delano at that time was very much divided.
you have, you know, west of highway 99, you have the churches that were a little more progressive, allying with the farm workers, and east of highway 99 you tended to have the catholics who were allied more with the growers, right? so again, when you talk about religion and how religion can be used to make the movement go, religion is not a monolith. it is split by the movement. although nowadays, we have robert kennedy high school, we have cesar chavez high school, and in some ways, the division within delano is not as prominent as it was. although, i don't know if you remember this, but when robert kennedy high school got named or when cesar chavez high school got named, there was some resistance in this community to go after those schools and individuals because it was a very divisive history. we know why cesar chavez got a high school named after him, but
robert kennedy, i don't know if i mentioned this to you, in 1966, he was a senator, and he brought the senate subcommittee on migratory labor to delano, to delano high. and they had hearings where people reported on the conditions if the fields and the strike. and there's a really famous exchange, i can post a link for you online, where bobby kennedy, john's brother, seen as the inheritor of the legacy. he tells the current county sheriff to go read the constitution of top united states during the lunch break. because the sheriff was arresting strikers preemptively before they did anything, so they wouldn't do violence. that's unconstitutional. it's a famous exchange, but it gives you a sense of why you have kennedy high school. it's remembering the legacy of the kennedy family to advance the conditions of farm workers.
we have a few more minutes left and i feel, especially from your oral history, that there's a range of things that still haven't been mentioned. so let me kind of throw some ideas out there and see if this triggers any of your imaginations. so we talked about fear which was very good, we talked about violence and supporters of the union. where is lydia? there she is. lydia, can you just say a little bit about the oral history that you did? because i thought the person that you interviewed was absolutely wonderful. just say a little bit about how you came to it and what you got from that story. >> yeah, i interview ed a man wo used to be a captain when they did picket lines for cesar chavez. he was very involved and told me he came from -- it was from arizona. he used to work in the fields as well in salinas for some reasons
he moved. and he went, i believe it was one of his cousins, invited him to go listen to cesar chavez. and he was like, okay, let's go. so he went and he listened to everything, the words he had to say, they impacted him in a great way, because he said that when he was sitting there listening to him, he was thinking to himself, hey, this is me, this is my father, this is my uncles. talking about farm workers. and the very same day, he went to him after everything finished and said, i'm in, i'm with you. and the next day he went and he told his boss, i can't work no more. and he talked at how it was hard during the strike.
>> five long years, right? >> yeah. they were living on donations and stuff like that. but to him it was a big privilege to be able to work to a person next to him, because it impacted his life in a great way to, you know, to always strive for what you want no matter what comes your way or what people tell you or how many, like, things they put in front of you to always try for whatever reason. >> the story you just captured really speaks to what my man in the back ran about fear, right? he had fear, right? about joining this movement. but once he heard the words of ceasr chavez, once he heard him speak, he overcame that fear and couldn't do anything but join this cause, right? the oral history is very good because he talks about almost everything that's been brought up, right? he talks about the violence, about how some people on both
sides were violent toward one another, but cesar intervened, right? and did the fast to try to calm the situation, right? or he talked about what you said about overcoming that fear about joining a movement, right? so i really wish that -- and i think this may happen in the future, i have been doing this for four years where students in delano do oral history projects in my u.s. history class and my california class. and i have them all. and i have contact with all my students. and there's an effort at uc merced to build an oral history project, right? along the scholarship i mentioned, the six books, none of them really talk about the farmer group movement at a grassroots level, right? about how ordinary people experience movement and tend to focus on the activists, the organizers, but not necessarily ordinary people, grassroots people. and i think that is so rich
about this project. and in the case of your individual, i mean, that's a really important history. i am glad that you put me in contact with him. he's definitely somebody i want to interview. but my hope is one day that you can read everyone else's or have access to them. because my suspicion is that within four to five years, there's going to be a digital database. there's going to be a recruitment effort to try to capture these narratives. because people are getting older, right? people are not living -- they are dying, right? so they have things in their garages that need to be digitized. that's why i encourage my students to capture those family histories. they are so, so rich. let me ask a couple of questions, at least for my filipino students or students who interviewed filipinos. could any of you comment maybe a little bit about the question about how other ethnic groups surface within this plan, or just more generally like when
you did your oral history, what are some of the issues in your mind that filipino farm workers, because that's who again most people interviewed, what are some of the issues they face? like, how much will it differentiate or be similar to the story of mexican farm workers? where are my students who talked to filipinos? i know there are some of you. we have two. what is your name? could you tell maybe just a little bit about your interview. >> i interviewed my grandpa. and he was a farmer for, like, since 1997 when he came here. and mexicans were, like, they were so nice to them and they don't, they don't, like, they don't -- >> no, you're doing fine. >> they treat them like they are one of them. they treat them like they are
united and they work together. and just like that, there's no -- there's no racial segregation and everything. >> yeah, so your oral history talked a lot about maybe inner ethnic harmony between filipinos and mexicans. absolutely. i think that's a big theme when we're talk about the story of farm labor in delano. the united farm workers is called the united farm workers because it is the merging of the national farmers association prominently mexican and the organizing committee which is filipino. so those two groups joined and became the united farm workers, right right? it was filipino americans. can you, ashley, say a few words about how your history intersects with the history we have been talking about tonight? >> my dad -- for seven years, he
didn't experience any who is pillty or anything. he just told me about the pay, i believe it was like $1.65 an hour. and then he had a bonus of 28 cents per box or whatever, because they got bonuses for how many boxes they could fill. >> which is very interesting. a lot of folks who interviewed family members talked about wages. i really liked to read that stuff. one of the pieces of advice i gave to you and other people as well is when you go into the revision process, you want to hammer down dates. chronology is important. the chronology we talked about tonight, 1965, with the launch of the delano grave strike, and the five-year strike and boycott when ufw gets contracts in 1970. much of the oral histories that people in this room did is about the 1970s and the 1980s. so you might want to go back to your subject and just make sure
you can clarify the dates that you're actually talking about. certainly in 1965 and 1970, that would be the high point of farm labor organizing when the ufw maybe has the most clout. but as the 1970s and '80s come along, the union evolves, it is not as successful in organizing farm workers after the late 1970s and the '80s. as are many labor unions in the united states, the rise of conservativism, ronald reagan, there was a backlash against labor unions in this country, which we'll talk about more next week, but again, you want to hammer down those dates a little bit more with your subjects to clarify time. sop i want to say just a few concluding synthetic remarks before we take our break. so, again, if you recap what we
talked about tonight, we talked about family history, right? about how family history can be a lens into studying topics of race, ethnicity, civil rights, labor in the american west. and all of you have done that. all of you now are little baby historians, right? doing this great research project. and i highlighted myself about how my own research process started with something very similar, like trying to figure out how my own family, how that story connects to bigger themes in american history. in this case, okies and the farm worker movement. the other point to note is about the primary sources versus something called secondary sources. so all of you know now have a great primary source. i'll bet, i'm not going to poll you, but i'm willing to bet that whoever you interviewed as a photo album. maybe during the interstrew tvi
had the photo album out. maybe you just want to have dinner, but go out and look at the photo album. everyone has to do revisions that are a little bit more targeted. if your subjects are being analyzed in your paper, that is something i strongly encourage you to do. know in the coming years there migts might be a very aggressive effort in partnership with organizations to get all that stuff digitized for the future, right? because 20 years from now, 30 years from now, when people are trying to write the story of farm labor, those people you interviewed may not be around, right? who is going to guarantee their materials are preserved? hopefully it will be you. but again, to kind of recap, we talked about family history, we talked about the union, but more in a way to highlight my own research, which is again this argument that the civil rights movement, the legal rights movement was ultimately more
broader than questions of farm labor locally. and in order to understand the gravity of the unions movement, you absolutely need to understand that it was connected to other struggles for civil rights and racial integration here in current county and in bakersfield. and to kind of close with the plan of delano, again p you should read this document as symbolizing the idealism of the farm worker movement. about bringing people together of all faiths, of all ethnic racial groups, it's also a remembering of the struggles and try yumps of the mexican people. this is called a plan of delano referencing previous plans that were issued of people of mexican descent in protest, right? you think about that as symbolizing the 1960s. and the people you interviewed, whether in the '60s or '70s, experienced that. maybe they were part of that movement or maybe they were outside of that movement.
if that's the case, go back to your subjects in the next month as we're finishing this class, and now that you're a little more versed on the idealism of the farm worker movement, engage with your oral history subject and ask more questions and try to figure out, what was their world view if it was driven by fear, take that one step further to say, well, they had to feed their families, right? it's an issue of pure economics, right? maybe they saw the movement as being too idealist, right? you'll never know until you ask the question, okay? so i thank you, again, for participating tonight. and i look forward to the revisions tomorrow in the paper. this is absolutely exciting work. i applaud you for your participation tonight. thank you so much. you are watching american history tv on c-span3.
we'll continue our look at the latino history in the civil rights movement in just a moment, but tonight more lectures on history focusing on religion and the impact on the american revolution. join us at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on c-span3. c-span's voices from the road at the national summit in boston asked attendees what is the most important issue to your state. >> one of the biggest issues that is facing the great state of maryland is the issue and problem of juvenile justice. in the great state of maryland, we have over 50 of our youth that are incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole. i'm going to be working very diligently with the legislature to put in place a bill that would allow for these juveniles
to have a hearing. that is one of the biggest issues we see facing us in the great state of maryland. the second has to do with opioids. the use of opioids is killing our young people, our old people, and it has no respect for age, creed, state, i mean, behavior, mental illness, all these things are important, but opioid is a leading cause of death in the state of maryland. so we're trying to do whatever we possibly can to eliminate this problem. that's one of the issues that we are going to be looking at as we move into the legislative session. one of the most important issues we're facing in new york right now is rail safety. we have over 5300 rail crossings in new york. and we have seen unfortunately fatalities increase over the past few years while nationally
those numbers have decreased. i passed legislation that would require an inventory of the 5300 rail crossings to prioritize and know which ones are the most deadly, which ones just need a simple amount of work, and which ones need to be eliminated altogether. when we look at the 5300 altogether, it's too awesome of a task to tackle. but by focusing in and making sure we can add new technologies and eliminating the most deadly, we can make a big difference and increase safety for everyone. congress has allocated money. now we need to put our plan in place to access that funding for new york to make our rails and make our motorists safer altogether. the issue that is the most important in my state is job growth and economic development. there are many problems that a good job can't solve. so to allow those parents and resources to those children to get a good education, and it will allow them to liftoff and do a lot of pleasant things and
wonderful things throughout their entire lifetime. so job growth and economic development are the two things our state drastically needs. thank you. currently, the most important issue facing our state is the fact that we don't have a budget. right now towns are preparing to go into the month of september. kids are going back to school. college is back in session. and municipal aid is being harped drastically without a budget. the governor's executive order doesn't give him the power to properly fund the schools or give funding to higher ed. it doesn't help the state employees and we need the budget now. and as soon as possible. >> and i'm here to just make a statement about what we need from our leaders in washington, d.c. what we're looking at in ohio, we need to take care of our infrastructure. that's a primary issue that is facing, not only ohio, but all across the united states. and we need washington to focus in on their infrastructure. our roads are crumbling. and we need trump and our
legislators to start focusing on that issue. >> voices from the road on c-span. you're watching "american history tv." 48 hours of american history tv every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitte twitter @cspanhistory for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news. next on lectures in history, we take you to the university of illinois where professor mireya loza teaches a class on the latino labor movements in the 20th century. she discusses the program that brought thousands of mexicans to the u.s. as guest workers, mostly in the agriculture history. this is about an hour and ten minutes. >> this is, we're almost toward the end of the semester, and because we are almost