My name is Frances Lara Alvarado. Second eldest daughter of Ramon and Consuelo Lara of Delano California.
As a third generation migrant worker and growing up as a farmworker living in Earlimart and Delano California, my parents, three sisters and two brothers were part of the UFW from the begining of the movement. One of many memories is of my father, Ramon Lara taking us to the Union meetings at Felipino Hall and waiting in anticipation of Cesar’s encouraging and powerful words. I will always remember my fathers loud and chanting words , “Viva la Huelga!!” Viva Cesar Chavez !!” and remember seeing tears in his eyes when we all sang-holding hands, We Shall Overcome. It was such a powerful image.
In 1968, we were one of many families that traveled to the east coast to be part of the Grape Boycott. Our destination was Columbus Ohio. Our experience started the day we left Delano in the late summer of 1968. We developed strong relationships along our travel to Columbus, meeting other families and leaving them at their destination cities. We were excited but we were also nervous not knowing what to expect when we arrived at our destinations. I remember arriving in cities and having churches and unions waiting for many of us, ready with hot meals and a place to sleep. It was an experience that we will never forget. Upon our arrival to Columbus, we made forever lasting friendships with wonderful and caring people that were ready to start the grape boycott movement in Columbus. We attended an All white school and later moved to another part of Columbus and attended an ALL black school. We were the first Latino students that our school classmates had seen or met. We organized the grape boycott movement - picketing various grocery stores, developing a support network among unions and church organizations. After 8 months, our next destination was St. Louis, Missouri and then Dallas Texas. Our family left in late summer of 1968 and returned to Delano in the summer of 1971. We put our life on hold for over two years to join the grape boycott and although we sacrificed our basic family life, we did it with dignity, courage, and hope. It was a difficult task that all the grape boycott families had to endure but they are proud that they took part of this history.
After returning from the boycott, my family continued to be part of the UFW movement. My mother and sisters were incarcerated for picketing. My father and brothers were picket captains and helped organize the people for the marches and picketing. In honor of their history with UFW they were asked to hold Cesars casket when he passed away.
In 1972 I got married and moved to Oregon. I have been working as Employment & Training Counselor (for Oregon Human Development Corporation) for 25 years providing employment and Training opportunities to migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
In my career job, I continue to work with farmworker families.
I very proud to share and to tell people that I knew Cesar and his family personally, that I went to school with his daughters, that I walked side by side with them at marches, distributing voting brochures, doing voter registrations in LA and above all, that my parents, Ramon and Consuelo Lara gave it 100% when it came to the UFW. Si se puede.