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Sunday, April 07, 2013

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 4-7

Just a Thought: Interviewing Cesar Chavez
By Steve Walker

Last week for the 17th consecutive year in San Antonio, various Cesar Chavez supporters marched down Cesar Chavez Boulevard to honor the late civil rights leader and activist who died in 1993.

As one who has participated for 14 of those years, I was there taking photos of the event as I have for the past seven years. I have seen various Grand Marshalls such as Paul Chavez, Cesar’s brother, Dolores Huerta his companion, and Arturo Rodriguez his son-in-law who served for a second time this year. This year’s photos are on my blog the Walker Report once again for all to view.

One of my cherished memories of Cesar Chavez who I met in 1982 while a reporter for KENS-5, was the interview I had with him as a reporter.

My most striking memory of Cesar Chavez was his calm demeanor. He spoke softly, respectfully and articulately. He never raised his voice. He reminded me of Gandhi.

To this day I can’t recollect how I was so fortunate to even get the interview. I was a weekend reporter who also filled in for vacationing reporters for a period of about 3 months. Whether I interviewed him on a weekend or during one of those stints during the week for others is still a blur. However I vividly recall asking him questions on his mission to protect the farm workers.

He spoke about the discrimination against field workers who were taken of advantage of in the fields, the long hours of grueling work and low compensation. As one who taught migrant worker’s children in the late 70s with the Southside ISD, I was acutely aware of what he was saying.

Having also worked on a kibbutz in Israel for only a week in 1972 gave me a taste what it was like to work in the fields picking apples and tomatoes. It was back breaking work to say the least. Anyone who tells you it is not hard work has never spent time in the fields picking whatever.

In the 90s I walked a number of picket lines in solidarity with my friend Jaime Martinez who was instrumental in securing the naming of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and keeping the name of Cesar Chavez alive in San Antonio. By then not much had changed.

To all of those who never met Cesar Chavez missed meeting a great man of the people. Si Se Puede!

Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist. His column “Ask the Judge” column ran in La Prensa for the last two years.

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