I’ve spend the last week at the National Chavez Center in Keene County, California. Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace) was and is a UFW/Chavez family compound. His wife, Helen, son Paul and various other people still live here. There is a long freight train that drives by almost every hour, it’s horn echoes in the distance as it slowly creeps by. The mountains, right now, are luscious and green, and fog hangs heavy in the air. It’s been truly a life changing experience.
When Paul Chavez came to talk to our group- I felt a little overwhelmed. But really, there was no need. He told us stories about how his dad was a short and shy man. That he was angry for many years about the unjust treatment of farmworkers before he got the strength to do something about it, that he fasted not as a hunger strike, or as a political stunt, but as a spiritual journey and a learning process. He told us that as children they worked many hours distributing literature door to door and walking up and down picket lines.
I can’t imagine a more inspirational place to do a training, especially for people involved with farmworker advocacy.
The grave is surrounded by Cesar Chavez’ roses. The walls and beams are thick to show stability and permanence. The waterfalls in the back symbolize the 5 martyrs that dies for la causa.
Although our days have been long and exhausting, I have been so happy. I am learning more and more every day and I can’t wait to really jump into my work in DC. AFOP, and everyone I have met from the organization, is really great! Hooray. Everything happens for a reason 🙂
I bought a pair of UFW earrings at the gift shop by the museum. One of my co-workers asked the sales person (she was probably a Chavez too!) how they came up with the eagle as the symbol. She said Cesar and his brother wanted a logo that would be recognizable without words, something that could stand alone and looked powerful. The eagle was selected because it was the sacred bird of the Aztecs and historic symbol for the people of Mexico. It was selected to give pride and courage to farmworkers (drawn simply so anyone could recreate it). Cesar said “When they see it, they know it means dignity.” The eagle is black to stand for the dark situation of farmworkers. The white circle signified hope and aspirations. The red background stands for the struggle and sacrifice of union members.
Si se puede!