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Sunday
Jul172011

United Farmworkers and their supporters on their way to Salinas, California where Cesar Chavez was to speak • California Highway 101, Summer 1979.

 

In the summer of 1979 there was a big anti-nuclear strategy meeting with people from all over the state in Santa Barbara, California.

Gretta Goldenmann, Frances Stewart and I travelled together in Frances' car on Highway 101. We were all members of BAND, our town's affinity group which we had formed to protest the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Gretta and I had our little boys with us. Frances drove. She was beloved for her environmental work-she had stopped a harbor from being developed in our little town- and for her courage at Diablo Canyon where, at 73, she had climbed over a 10 foot fence, had gotten arrested and actually spent several days in jail. As we were driving along, we saw a group of marchers come towards us. Excitedly I asked Frances to stop. From the red flags and the Aztek Eagle, I knew these were the farmworkers of Cesar Chavez' and Dolores Huerta's United Farmworkers Union (UFW) that was fighting for the rights of the lowest paid, worst treated workers in the state.

I ran across the street with my camera and people waved to me, smiled, but kept on marching. The atmosphere was joyous. They were going to a rally where Cesar Chavez was going to speak. A woman carried flowers for him, it struck me as being such a womanly gesture. I had never seen that in the marches before. The virgin of Guadelupe was with them on a banner. I almost did not want to leave and would have rather gone the other way with the marchers.

In Santa Barbara, people were sitting under beautiful trees discussing ideas for the anti-nuclear movement of the region, but it was hard to hear. A group of German observers kept on murmuring quite loudly. It bothered me. Finally. I went over to them and asked them to be quiet. One of them was Juergen Engel. We became life long friends. He later was one of the first Greens and a member of the state parliament of Hesse where the Greens fought a big battle against nuclear power.

During the whole road trip I was terrified of Frances' driving and asked her several times to be more careful. Years later I learned that the Alzheimer's disease from which she later suffered probably already had begun then. How lucky we were with our little boys and all the other drivers on Highway 101!

 

Additional UFW photographs can be found in Gallery One

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