My Lifelong Love of the UFW
It's time to DO something, don't you think? Now, that I'm retired I am going to do some things that appeal to my convictions and my passions.
Since I was a young man, the farm workers of California have had a special place in my heart. I don't understand how anyone can drive by the fields and farms in California and not feel great compassion and empathy for those hard working people who feed us. It's back breaking work. Often bent over, in the hot sun or the drenching rain, these folks keep working for infinitesimal wages. Many are forced to live a migrant lifestyle moving from farm to farm and city to city to "follow the crop". Their bodies take a beating, often they get only short breaks, and must inhale pesticides and other toxins. Many, who come here simply seeking a better life, face possible deportation. It is a grueling life. I can't describe the respect I have for these men and women.
Last night I received the word that my education mentor and role-model, Mr. Bill Dickson, had passed away. He was my high school drama director and he cast me as George in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men". To motivate me to understand my character he said, "Jeff, he's a lot like you. If he were alive today he'd be working on behalf of the farmworkers". Good old Mr. D., he went right to my heart.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph the United Farm Workers march in Madera, California. It was my first time photographing a march and I learned a lot about how to approach this next time. Nevertheless, I do hope you enjoy looking through some of the photos and see the passion and determination of these marvelous and indefatigable people who feed us.
I need to express my gratitude to Teresa Romero, Jocelyn Sherman, Jamie Padilla and Oscar Mejia of the UFW for allowing me the opportunity to help the UFW in this small way.
At the end of the march there were speeches, and dancing, and music, and food. It was a celebration of brotherhood and a common cause. Bless them for their kindness and hospitality.
You might know that Cesar Chavez was one of my childhood heroes along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Cesar's emphasis on non-violence resonates deeply in me still. How lucky I was to be in the presence of his spirit and among people, who despite hardships and unfairness and injustice, find meaning and passion and hope in their lives. They are the best among us. I hope, someday, to get another opportunity to be at marches and help document their indomitable and "Si! Se Puede!" spirit.
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.