The United Farm Workers Oakland Boycott House, 1975
We boycotted grapes, lettuce, supermarkets that wouldn’t comply.
We carried boycott banners on street corners and the UFW flag
With it’s black eagle and red field, known everywhere back then.
We trained in nonviolent action, held house meetings, marched for
The rights of farm workers to earn a fair wage, to join unions, to
Organize for justice. We were imperfect for sure, but we believed.
Most of the time we slept three or four hours a night or even less.
We went into the fields to support the workers, allied ourselves with
Most social and human justice causes of the time. Our group lived
In one of the worst parts of Oakland, earning five dollars a week plus
Room and board. Cesar Chavez would loan us out for causes and
People he supported. Off to Oregon we’d go on a moment’s notice to
Campaign for Jerry Brown when he ran for president as a write-in
Candidate there in 1976. We ran Tom Hayden’s campaign for U.S
Senate in San Jose. Sometimes, I’d finish for the day and shower
At 5 a.m., get dressed, climb into bed, sleep for a half hour and start
All over again. It went that way, the dedication of students who left
Stanford University and San Jose State and other places, of nuns and
Priests and ministers and social workers and radicals and dreamers.
It was the time of my life I lived, where I learned about marijuana,
Met my first gay friends, learned to call “girls” women, and see people
As humans, whether they were poor, whether they were a different
Color, whether they smelled like the earth. We stood our ground when
People who didn’t understand us threatened to beat us; we resisted
Nonviolently, and sometimes they would back off, tears in their eyes.
In the end we all went our own ways, and much has been written
About what went wrong with Cesar Chavez and the UFW during
That time, but I’m not writing and posting tonight to talk about that.
We grew up and learned what it is to walk together, hand-in-hand,
People of all colors, backgrounds, sexual orientations, political beliefs.
We were rich students and poor workers, atheists and Christians of
All mixtures and persuasions, all joined together for a cause beyond
Ourselves. Years later, when Chavez died, I was a newspaper reporter
And traveled to cover his funeral in Delano, where old boycott friends
Who still lived came together, most of us for the last time. There we
Joined hands, laughed and cried, and marched again behind the flag
And the coffin, not so much for a reality that never came to be but
For a dream that lives yet in our hearts, y por la causa, si se puede!