“It is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are… I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us be men.”
Fifty years ago, in 1968 Chicano activist and farm worker organizer Cesar Chavez started his 25 day his fast. While running for President, Robert F. Kennedy, flew to meet him and break bread break the fast.
This past weekend in McAllen, Texas, RFK’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy joined by Delores Huerta, the co-founder of the American Farm Workers Union in a new fast. This time around it won’t be Chavez’s life threatening 25 days, it will be 24 hours for each individual person which will then be passed along to the next person. 24 hours for 24 days for the 2400+ children separated from their parents.
Kerry Kennedy standing with Delores Huerta and members of LUPE read from prepared remarks, saying, “Peace, compassion and justice for those who have suffered, that’s what the United States should stand for. That was Robert Kennedy’s mantra when he ran for President of the United States 50 years ago. 50 years later, our nation is yearning as a country for communities, for a country, for a government which embraces peace and justice and compassion towards those that suffer. Today we have a President with a different vision of what it means to be American.”
Not surprisingly President Trump was the main subject of many of the speakers talks, but as many people have noted the nationalist leader wasn’t the first to enact harsh immigration measures. Juanita Valdez-Cox, the executive director of LUPE told me in an interview the day before the protest that her organization had been dealing with deportations in their communities before Trump came around but no where near this many. The difference with Trump was that he warned us what he was going to do and was elected anyway. “Even before this President was elected, he showed us his true colors. He told us what he was going to do. He told us how he felt about Mexicans.” Obama was nicknamed the ‘Deporter-in-Chief’ and there weren’t these sorts of rallies or wide spread support, but Juanita was hopeful.
“We find hope because he have been able to make some changes, minor changes. The other thing is that those that are here those that are working, that are undocumented, they don’t lose hope and those are the ones that are right in the middle of it.”
LUPE which stands for La Union del Pueblo Entero is a community organization that was founded in 1989 by Delores Huerta and Cesar Chavez in South Texas. While the American Farm Workers Union helps people establish their rights as an employee, LUPE is the community organization that helps them with nearly everything else. They have immigration lawyers, social workers that help people navigate the government system and of course they organize rallies against injustice.
You can find out more information about the fast and the work at that LUPE does on their facebook page, facebook.com/LUPErgv/. Subscribe to NationofChange’s Youtube page for more videos from the border and this event.