Farmworkers

Dick Meister: Cesar Chavez: A true American hero

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. He's the co-author of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle To Unionize American's Farm Workers" (Macmillan). Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com

I hope we can all pause and reflect on the extraordinary life of a true American hero on Saturday (March 31). It's Cesar Chavez Day, proclaimed by President Obama and observed throughout the country on the 85th birth date of the late founder of the United Farm Workers union.  In California, it's an official state holiday.

As President Obama noted, Chavez was a leader in launching "one of our nation's most inspiring movements." He taught us, Obama added, "that social justice takes action, selflessness and commitment. As we face the challenges of the day, let us do so with the hope and determination of Cesar Chavez."

Like another American hero, Martin Luther King Jr., Chavez inspired and energized millions of people worldwide to seek and win basic human rights that had long been denied them, and inspired millions of others to join the struggle. Read more »

Dick Meister: Celebrating the Farmworkers' Filipino American Champion

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former Labor Editor of SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. He's co-author of "A Long Time Coming: The Struggle To Unionize America's Farm Workers." Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

The birth date of Cesar Chavez, the late farm workers' leader, will be celebrated next month, and rightly so.  But it's well past time we also celebrated the life of probably the most important of the other leaders who played a major role in winning union rights for farm workers and otherwise helping them combat serious exploitation.

That's Larry Itliong. He died 35 years ago this month at age 63. Itliong got involved in the farm workers' struggle very early in life, not long after he arrived as a 15-year-old immigrant from the Philippine Islands. He was among some 31,000 Filipino men who came to California in the late 1920s. Read more »