Si Lo Hizo!: Remembering Richard Chavez

Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Richard Chavez. Keene, California (1980)

The United Farm Workers, one of the great American democracy movements, lost a brother, leader, friend this week. Richard Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez, died at age 81 in Bakersfield, California.

If you know nothing else about him, remember that he designed the black Aztec eagle on a red field that became a symbol of Chicano and farm worker justice around the world.

In June 2011, Richard Chavez stood on the steps of the California state capitol to encourage those who were fasting for farm workers rights [Watch the video.]

He said: “It’s been almost 50 years ago that I came and marched on these steps for the very same thing that we are here for today. It was an Easter Sunday and Dolores and I marched. We marched to talk to then-Governor Brown–another Governor Brown, the father of this governor. Fasting is nothing new to our movement. We have been fasting for years and years. Continue reading “Si Lo Hizo!: Remembering Richard Chavez”

Come Back, Rachel Carson …

Rachel Carson, founder of the modern American environmental movement, was born May 27, 1907.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” –Rachel Carson, American marine biologist and conservationist, author of Silent Spring

I’ve been contemplating writing a book on Carson’s spiritual life — from her Presbyterian upbringing to her deep mysticism. Linda Lear’s excellent biography Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature is a thorough introduction to Carson. She’s an amazing woman. Here’s an excerpt from a column I wrote about her for Sojourners:

Rachel Carson—biologist, wri­ter, conservationist, Presby­ter­ian, and founder of the modern U.S. environmental movement—never lost her sense of wonder and awe in the natural world. She instinctively rooted for life and was ferocious in its defense. She sought out suppressed narratives in nature, such as the silencing of songbirds by industrial pesticides described in her 1962 classic Silent Spring. She cultivated an affectionate ethic for the natural world and the humans who worked most closely with it. Carson was driven by some “memory of paradise,” as playwright Eugene Ionesco put it.

Carson understood that human dignity was protected by social justice and had its own kind of natural beauty. Though Silent Spring focused on songbirds, Carson also flagged the danger pesticides posed to farm workers. Her research, along with immigration policy changes, gave Chicano leaders Dolores Huerta and César Chávez the climate they needed to mobilize for the rights and safety of farm workers, leading to the formation of the United Farm Workers union.

Read the rest of A Memory of Paradise by Rose Marie Berger.

Vanessa Ortiz: ‘Everything I Learned About Activism, I Learned from Mom’

Vanessa Ortiz

I came across a fun blog piece titled Everything I learned about activism, I learned from Mom by Vanessa Ortiz. It’s a great testament to the true historical roots of Mother’s Day.

My own Mom took me to United Farm Workers protests in Sacramento in the 1970s, peace demonstrations at the local SAC base and nuclear abolition protests in the 1980s, and showed me what it means to stand up – and show up – for justice. (Thanks, Mom!)

Mothers don’t realize that their daily shows of bravery and seemingly small courageous actions grow another generation of female activists!  Yes, we sometimes take the lessons of cooking and cleaning, or studying and reading, or raising great kids, but often we watch with awe as our mothers take on the world. My mother raised five children, she worked as a social worker and a teacher, she kept an immaculate house, she was a community organizer, she was an educator, and she was politically and locally in touch. Today, I can’t even claim half of those achievements.Everything I Learned about Activism, I Learned from Mom | Peace X Peace, May 2010

Peace X Peace, where’s Ortiz’s post was published, is a global network of women with women-focused e-media, fresh analysis, and from-the-frontlines perspectives. We engage, connect, and amplify women’s voices as the most direct and powerful ways to create cultures of peace around the world. I wrote a short piece on the organization for Sojourners magazine back in November 2004 (see Women Building Peace).