Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Condition. Discussion »
While César Chávez, who is best known as Mexican American leader that cofounded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers, he held a great affinity for American Indian struggle.
Native Americans Lead Chavez' Funeral Procession
Last year I had the honor to spend time with and talk to Delores Huerta, who co-founded the migrant workers union with César Chávez. Huerta, who is now in her early 80s, told me how Chávez and she were supporters of the efforts of the American Indian Movement back in the 1970s.
Several states honor César Chávez on March 31, which is his birthday. This great American icon should be honored with a national holiday. One of my favorite Chávez quotes speaks volumes to the need that still exists to heal social injustice:“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men.”
In 1978, Chávez joined American Indian Movement leader Dennis Banks, Ojibwa, to establish a 500 Mile spiritual marathon that still exists today with the United Farm Workers giving support.
The two leaders joined hands and agreed that La Paz, a peace compound outside of Bakersfield, California, and now the resting place of César Chávez, would host the 500 Mile Run along with the historical first Indian university west of the Mississippi River, DQ University in Davis, CA. Banks served as DQ's first president.
La Paz has always remained the starting honor spot to begin the 500 Mile Marathon Relay. The marathon's purpose is to carry the message of the sacredness of all life, the relationship to all living species, and of the need to maintain the delicate balance that exists between humankind and our Mother Earth.
Huerta also shared with me that at the time of his untimely death in 1993, Chávez, who passed away peacefully, was still wearing eyeglasses and a brochure in his hand. The brochure was about American Indian art from the southwest.
posted March 31, 2012 5:45 pm edt
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