Some people have asked, why get together? Por qué nos queremos juntar com puro viejos? Good question. And it deserves a good answer. Part of that answer is that those of us who found the courage to stand up and take to the streets believed in our heart of hearts that it was important to do so. We believe that education was important and that everyone had the right to a good education. When Cesar Chavez began his efforts to unionize farm workers, he too believed that the time had come once again for farm workers to be treated better and paid a fair wage. He knew that he was not the first to advocate for the rights of farm workers. He knew that many tried before him. But he also knew that those previous failures could not be the end of a dreams.
In many respects, it was Cesar Chavez and the farm workers who showed other Mexicanos that if the poorest of the poor could find the courage to stand up to the rich agricultural growers in California, then others could do so in the communities in which they lived. And so we saw Corky Gonzales in Colorado launch the Crusade for Justice. We saw Reies Lopez Tijerina in New Mexico bring to the attention of the publish the land grant issues.
But today things are different. Or are they? When one looks around, one can see the poverty in the cities, once can see the food insecurity issues in the rural areas. And while the educational statistics are better today than they were 50 years ago, there is still room for improvement.
One of the purposes of this Raza Unida Commemoration is not just to say good-bye to yesterday, but to pass the torch onto the next generation of younger people who will continue in the tradition of many of us who were very active back then. It is our hope that a new and fresh group of faces will join us on Labor Day weekend to explore some of the things that need to be done. More to come on this topic.