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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/18/18

In 1971 the Western Growers Association wanted Chavez in Federal Prison. They failed.

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The grape boycott had won in 1970 using non-violent, militant protest as their tool. Started on September 8, 1865, Hispanics joined with the original Filipino effort, choosing the path of non-violence. Chavez, a student of Gandhi, who was, himself was a student of Alice Paul.

Improved conditions had been hard won. Cesar Chavez had put his life at risk, drawing attention nationally to their boycott with a hunger strike which lasted 25 days. He had succeeded.

The California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), funded by the state and staffed by pro bono attorneys, had assisted with these.

Before his death, Robert Kennedy had helped solve the problem faced by migratory families to ensuring their children received earned academic credit for their school work traveled with them as the families move on to new harvests. Before, it had been usual for the laborer's children to be denied graduation because their records were lost. The solution was a satellite system to Chavez for ensuring records promptly followed each student to their new school.

Despite the money and power of the Western Growers, farm laborers had won the right to organize. Their children would find ever increasing opportunities opening to them. The future held unfolding promise.

The Western Growers Association (WGA) signed a contract enumerating the list of demands issued by Cesar Chavez, included port-a-potties for use in the fields. Over those years farm workers had experienced active abuse and harassment by local sheriffs, enduring wretched living conditions, routine job injuries, deaths, polluted conditions, housing which was not as good as a dog house and no running water in many areas.

But did anyone stop to wonder what the Western Growers Association thought about these recent events?

In early July 1971, Brock d'Avignon, editor and chief of The New Horizon's, now in its third issue, published in Los Angeles and Orange Counties decided this was a hot topic.

New Horizon was read by people who supported Young Americans for Freedom; its editorial policy was Jeffersonian Libertarian. At the time Brock was chairman of the Orange County Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) Chapters. As the YAF Chairman Brock had recently been in the news, challenging Nixon's to stay home from China policy and the California State Department of Equalization floor price for haircuts. They had also protested the murder of 56 million Chinese political prisoners to keep Communist China out of the United Nations.

Recently, they had done a Free Mark Huessey Protest. Huessey was held for six months for commenting to a German, as he watch Soviet tanks roll by that their country would be better off without the Soviets. He was arrested for making the suggestion.

Brock opened his phone book, located the Western Growers Association on Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles and arranged to go in for an interview. At the same time, he provided the information needed for them to take out an ad. 1/16th of a page for $250.

Arriving at the WGA office on Wilshire Blvd., the receptionist in the business-like entry told Brock they were waiting for him upstairs. The first gentleman greeted Brock as he came up the stairs, introducing himself as the President of the WGA, shaking Brock's hand.

Escorting Brock into the conference room Brock, the president, and their communications specialist and an attorney.

They sat down in a semi-circle, away from the conference table. Brock asked for their point of view. He said, "I understand that farming is a narrow profit-margin business." He told them about his own history picking oranges and lemons and his familiarity with barrios in Orange County.

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Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father (more...)
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