I just read a review of the new movie “Cesar Chavez, an American Hero.” From it, I got the idea it was more about family background and the usual conflicts when a parent is off on a crusade. The rest of the movie is reported to follow the timeline of progress of the United Farm Workers as it grew to over 350,000 members.
I was on the Board of Christian Family Renewal after the Delano Grape Boycott. My wife and I also had a TV show on the local CBS TV station called “The News Firm,” where she interviewed guests and I reported on current events from a Christian viewpoint.
During that time, I got a call from a Delano Grape grower who wanted to support our politico/religious program. We went to his home and sat down over a cup of coffee. His only condition? “Tell everyone what a dirty SOB the Bishop (Donahue) was.” We declined the opportunity – even though the growers were largely Catholic being pitted against a largely Catholic workforce by Marxists, church leaders, and Democrats. We even got a call of enthusiastic support for our show from then Auxiliary Bishop Roger Mahony, later Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.
I still have mixed emotions about Cesar, as I believe his heart was right. His getting sucked in with Dolores Huerta for training by communist community organizer Fred Ross in New Mexico may have changed his outlook.
Jump ahead to 2007-2009, when my wife ran St. Faustina’s Maternity Home in Bakersfield. We lived in a small apartment attached to the house. We tried to create a family with 13 girls, and ultimately their babies. Most girls were ones who made a mistake by giving up their mystery; others were street-smart and knew how to maximize their relationship with the welfare industry, including having more babies after leaving us.
Enter Irma Gabaldon, our best and most street-smart volunteer. Her family were farm laborers from Earlimart, north of Delano. She saved our bacon by cutting through the BS. Ultimately, one of the girls, after leaving us and the apartment(s) we arranged for her, ended up on the streets with her baby. Husband Anthony and Irma took in the little girl as foster parents and then adopted her after the birth-mom realized she was incapable. Unfortunately, Irma succumbed to cancer just over a year ago. During our visits, Anthony, also from Earlimart, mentioned his mother Josephine was the founder and head of “Mothers Against Chavez.” He gave me a picture of him and other kids and Moms in front of their chartered bus.
It was a dismal epoch in Delano, CA. The goal of the Delano Grape Boycott was to force unionization of the farm workers to improve their pay and working conditions while subjugating their employers.
The majority of the workers were Americans of Mexican descent, plus documented immigrants and illegals. They have a certain love of the soil and a sense of true beauty and artistry that benefitted California agriculture for generations. They could draw the best out of a grape vine or a fruit tree or make a broken-down tractor hum.
They are also Roman Catholic from the time Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 Mexico and freed them from the despotism of Aztec rulers. As many as 300,000 victims were sacrificed every year to Aztec gods until Our Lady fulfilled an ancient Aztec prophecy on the Hill of Tepeyac.
Working conditions and the treatment of employees varied with the nature and character of the farm owners, but they largely cared for their employees as much as any other employer. Sanitary conditions and other aspects of toiling in the hot sun have been vastly improved under pressure from the UFW. Many migrate north following the harvests each year, often making their lives difficult save for growers’ labor camps. Many of the growers are also Roman Catholic. Their Church leaders stood against them, adding to the chaos caused by well-trained and funded leftist community organizers.
The United Farm Workers was formed around Fred Ross’ Communist tactics taught to Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta when in New Mexico. Seeking union organization of the workers, the UFW was quickly embraced by Democrat politicians and church leaders of several denominations. They came by the busload from UFW headquarters, they marched, they threatened, and they carried banners of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Che Guevara.
The contrast between the freedom Christ Our Lady delivered and the mass-murdering Communist slavery of Che Guevara was not lost on Josephine Gabaldon.
Josephine from Earlimart, California, just north of Delano, organized a group of farm working mothers she called “Mothers Against Chavez.” As meetings were held in churches with special services and processions for the fledgling UFW, the Mothers tried to participate and express their feelings about the tactics of the UFW organizers. They were rebuffed and not even allowed in church halls. After all, the Kennedys and noted church leaders were on the side of the UFW. Leftist-defined Social Justice overcame Equal Justice.
Chavez and Huerta were showered with accolades so numerous it boggles the mind . In fact, the Obama Administration was lobbied by the UFW to posthumously present the late Fred Ross with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Mothers Against Chavez drew some financial support from a man who flew in on his Learjet, according to Josephine’s son Tony, who was 12 at the time and carrying a sign in the photo. A short time later, his jet crashed, killing all on board.
History has a strange way of working things out. Josephine’s “Hispanic Tea Party” – Mothers against Chavez, losing its benefactor in a plane crash–never succeeded in stopping the UFW as it grew to the joy of leftists and Democrats all the way to Washington, DC with millions of taxpayer dollars.
The UFW has failed to win repeated elections at farms and food processing plants, whose workers were well treated. UFW is now down to less than 5,000 members – a drop of over 98%. Dolores Huerta still receives accolades for service to humanity through her failed union – even named to the list of “Top 100 Women of the 20th Century.” Huerta has four displays honoring her achievements at the California State Museum. Josephine isn’t even a footnote.
George Soros is funding her Dolores Huerta Foundation to campaign for the Democrat-backed immigration reform bill drafted by his affiliates to foist an Obamacare-like bill on the American people. She’s been leading protest meetings in front of Kevin McCarthy’s office in Bakersfield. Not to be outdone, he’s also trying to destroy our oil industry by paying MoveOn.org to arrange anti-fracking protests.
You won’t find a word about Josephine Gabaldon, the God-fearing Founder of the Mothers Against Chavez. Maybe someday when we are free again under our Constitution, they’ll name a school or a boulevard for her. Her son Tony, who marched with her and saw the injustices of the left, is today a successful communications specialist and father of 4, including the little girl he and his now late wife adopted 5 years ago. He is a staunch Republican who cajoles his relatives and co-workers to wake up.