It was a hot summer day in 1973, and I was external student body president at UC Santa Barbara. Someone organized a group of University of California student body presidents to join a long march in Delano. I think we went up to Berkeley and all rode down to Delano together. I had been in anti-war demonstrations but never in a labor march.
It was a thrill to shake hands with Cesar Chavez, and to join him and hundreds of farmworkers on a long, hot march for justice. That march was the first of many actions I have taken on behalf of low-wage workers.
Several years later I was an organizer with the Campaign for Economic Democracy, and the UFW was an important ally in our electoral and issue work. I got to meet Dolores Huerta, who remains one of my most important sheros. She supported our reproductive rights campaign, understanding before most men on the Left that family planning and self-determination are critical to women’s economic equality.
I remember hitchhiking back from Delano down Highway 5 with the graduate student president from UCLA, who is still a political comrade all these years later. I am active with CLUE-LA on behalf of carwasheros and hotel workers, and think often of that hot day in Delano, which set a major course in my life.