César Chavez (1927-1993)

Today is the 15th anniversary of the death of César Chavez. For all people who believe in the rights of workers to unionize, for all those who believe that the health and safety of workers should not be violated for profit, and for all those that believe in the human right of dignity for all people who work, then Chavez is your man.

While I am a firm believer that a holiday in his name was a symbolic move that has yet to make the lives of farmworkers better in any meaningful way; and while I believe a better way to remember his life and legacy would have been to pass legislation protecting the rights of farmworkers in the fields and in the courts; I am also a firm believer that the life of Chavez has much to teach us in a world of increasing globalization and labor oppressions.

Below, I provide for you a eulogy written by Brother Robert Lentz on the occasion of the death of Chavez, 15 years ago.

At the end of April
the vines already green with buds,
death came to the field-worker,
to the caesar of the grapes dressed in blue,
of the onions in white petticoats,
of the apples in red vestments.
She said to him, “Come, César!”

And took him from the poisoned grapes,
the watermelons, the melons full of ill,
the battles of the furrows,
the ambushes of the ditches,
the Guadalupe standard,
the red and black flag.

But in the furrows
his voice left planted
his longing for justice –
which is to say, his demands
for bread for the hungry,
healing for the sick,
books for the innocent.

His voice will bear fruit
and there will be rejoicing
in the furrows,
in the ditches,
round the tables
in the land.
At the end of April
the vines already green with buds,
death came to the field-worker,
to the caesar of the grapes dressed in blue,
of the onions in white petticoats,
of the apples in red vestments.
She said to him, “Come, César!”

And took him from the poisoned grapes,
the watermelons, the melons full of ill,
the battles of the furrows,
the ambushes of the ditches,
the Guadalupe standard,
the red and black flag.

But in the furrows
his voice left planted
his longing for justice –
which is to say, his demands
for bread for the hungry,
healing for the sick,
books for the innocent.

His voice will bear fruit
and there will be rejoicing
in the furrows,
in the ditches,
round the tables
in the land.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s