Among the speakers who delivered “fiery speeches” was United Farm Workers (UFW) co-founder Dolores Huerta. While the 92-year-old is not participating in any of the marches herself, she is as vocal as ever about the need for justice for these laborers. “Farmworkers are still the families that are the poorest in the state,” she told The Fresno Bee. “That is not right. That is not fair. That’s what needs to change.”
“Delano Vice Mayor Verónica Vásquez teared up talking about her lifelong support for the UFW and farmworkers that was planted by her grandparents, Florentino and Jenny Vásquez,” the report continued. She told the outlet that she grew up at Forty Acres, the historic complex in Delano where UFW began nearly six decades ago. “Without me realizing it, I’ve been fighting the good fight since I was a little kid.”
Paul Chávez, president of the César E. Chávez Foundation, was also among marchers. “The thing about a pilgrimage is that it requires a lot of sacrifice,” he told The Fresno Bee. “I think you can touch people’s hearts in ways that you can’t in texts, or even with speech.”
And hearts were absolutely being touched in the hours leading into the procession. UFW tweeted that Jackie, a community member from Madera, had delivered packs of bottled water to its offices. Another community member, Kimberly, had seen social media posts about the march and rushed to hand out snacks, UFW continued. While he couldn’t march either, internet sensation and noted labor ally, Jorts the cat, cheered on the marchers, as well.
“I am going to make a big sacrifice to march in high temperatures,” said mushroom harvester Jaime Rodriguez. He noted he’ll be losing wages in his effort to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom to support the Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act, would give farmworkers more choices in how they can vote in their union elections, including through mail. Newsom vetoed a version of the bill last year.
“I hope that Governor Newson takes into consideration what we are doing to help other farm workers have union representation and a law so they can vote for a union without fear or intimidation by the companies,” Rodriguez continued.
UFW said that marchers began their day on Friday at 7 AM in Porterville and will be traveling through cities including Merced, Turlock, Modesto, Stockton, Lodi, and finally Sacramento, where about 5,000 supporters will be expected, UFW political organizer Camilla Rivera told The Sun-Gazette. “Community members and organizations in each town will supply key support: a morning blessing when marchers depart; organizing residents to participate and help; providing food, water, and more for the marchers,” UFW said.
For those seeking to support marchers, organizers said donations of powdered electrolytes and sports drinks would be appreciated. UFW has a main page with information about how to join marchers, a full list of cities that will be visited, a petition link asking the governor to support the bill, and other donation information.
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