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To March for Others

The Black Freedom Struggle and the United Farm Workers

By Lauren Araiza

Publication Year: 2013

In 1966, members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an African American civil rights group with Southern roots, joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union on its 250-mile march from Delano to Sacramento, California, to protest the exploitation of agricultural workers. SNCC was not the only black organization to support the UFW: later on, the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Black Panther Party backed UFW strikes and boycotts against California agribusiness throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

To March for Others explores the reasons why black activists, who were committed to their own fight for equality during this period, crossed racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and ideological divides to align themselves with a union of predominantly Mexican American farm workers in rural California. Lauren Araiza considers the history, ideology, and political engagement of these five civil rights organizations, representing a broad spectrum of African American activism, and compares their attitudes and approaches to multiracial coalitions. Through their various relationships with the UFW, Araiza examines the dynamics of race, class, labor, and politics in twentieth-century freedom movements. The lessons in this eloquent and provocative study apply to a broader understanding of political and ethnic coalition building in the contemporary United States.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

On March 17, 1966 a group of around sixty Mexican American farm laborers representing the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) began marching nearly 250 miles from the farming town of Delano through California’s Central Valley to the state capitol in Sacramento. Led by Cesar Chavez, who had founded the union in 1962 and would go on to become...

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Chapter 1. This Is How a Movement Begins

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pp. 11-41

Elizabeth Sutherland Martínez had chosen her dress just for the occasion— it was red and black to match the flag of the National Farm Workers Association. As one of two Mexican Americans on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee nationwide, Martínez had traveled from New York City to California’s Central Valley in March 1966 to show...

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Chapter 2. To Wage Our Own War of Liberation

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pp. 42-70

Following the NFWA victory over Schenley Industries, journalist John Gregory Dunne asked veteran organizer Saul Alinsky what he would have done differently had he been in charge of the strike in Delano’s grape fields. Alinsky, head of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), was the virtual godfather to the NFWA. In 1947 he hired Fred Ross to organize Mexican...

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Chapter 3. Consumers Who Understand Hunger and Joblessness

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pp. 71-105

Esperanza Fierro Lopez was surprised by the minister’s reaction to her protest. After much discussion and debate with the other members of the UFWOC boycott committee in Philadelphia, Lopez had decided to fast in front of an A&P supermarket to draw attention to the plight of the farmworkers and persuade the store to remove California grapes from its shelves. She...

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Chapter 4. More Mutual Respect Than Ever in Our History

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pp. 106-139

In the winter of 1968, when agricultural employment was scarce and farmworkers and their families in the California’s Central Valley began to go hungry, many UFWOC members became frustrated with the slow progress of the union’s strike against Delano grape growers, which had been underway for two and a half years. Cesar Chavez recalled, “There was demoralization in...

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Chapter 5. A Natural Alliance of Poor People

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pp. 140-166

The small plane careened over the fields, buffeted by the strong winds of California’s Central Valley. Black Panther Party leaders Bobby Seale and Elbert “Big Man” Howard were taking the harrowing hour and a half flight, which seemed much longer to its passengers, to UFW headquarters at La Paz to meet with Cesar Chavez in March 1973. On landing, Seale and Howard...

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Conclusion

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pp. 167-172

The black freedom struggle’s support of the UFW demonstrates the potential benefits of coalitions. Alone, the farmworkers of California’s Central Valley were virtually powerless against the forces of agribusiness. But by linking la causa with the dynamic movements for social change of the 1960s and early 1970s, the UFW was able to attract allies beyond the farmworker community...

Notes

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pp. 173-194

Bibliography

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pp. 195-208

Index

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pp. 209-220

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 221-224

This book celebrates the spirit of cooperation and solidarity between the Black Freedom Struggle and the United Farm Workers. Just as the UFW would not have succeeded without the assistance of its allies, I could not have written this book without the help of a truly diverse coalition of supporters. To all of them, I owe my deepest appreciation.
The initial research for this project was funded...


E-ISBN-13: 9780812208832
E-ISBN-10: 0812208838
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245578
Print-ISBN-10: 0812245571

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 14 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Politics and Culture in Modern America
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Margot Canaday, Glenda Gilmore, Michael Kazin, Thomas J. Sugrue

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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexican American agricultural laborers -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Relations with Mexican Americans -- History -- 20th century.
  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century
  • United States -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • United Farm Workers of America -- History -- 20th century.
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