I was a Brooklyn kid newly arrived in Milwaukee. I had never given much thought to where my food came from. Why would I? It just seemed to always be there. I didn’t come from a rich family, my grandparents were immigrants, all had been farmworkers in the ‘old country’ and because they and my parents worked very hard we never wanted for food or shelter.
One rainy day I saw a group of people picketing a grocery store. I’d seen many pickets in labor disputes in New York, but I’d never seen a picket like this before. I asked what was happening and learned of the grape boycott. At first it struck me as an impossible task - why would people in Wisconsin give up grapes to help farm workers in California? And, if they did, would anyone really care.
I can still see that small group of people standing in the rain in a dreary Milwaukee neighborhood. I didn’t recognize it instantly. But, they changed my life. When I went home and , I started to think about not only where grapes came from, but where all that I needed to survive came from; and who labored to produce it.
I learned who Cesar Chavez was. His words and his witness moved me deeply. That was many years ago. And I continue in my small way to support and honor all who do the hard labor of our world.