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Cesar Chavez

April 29, 1993

On April 23 the greatest Mexican-American, Chicano, Hispanic, Latino (whichever you prefer), of this century and of this country's history died.

I, as a Chicano, loved and admired his fortitude, strength and love for his fellow man. I will miss him dearly. My stepfather was a union leader in San Francisco during the '60s and '70s, and his union, Painter's Local 4, was one of the first to give backing and support to Cesar Chavez.

As a young radical, I stood in front of the Safeway stores in San Francisco in 1968 and '69, boycotting grapes and lettuce, shouting for fair treatment for the people who picked the food we eat. I joined him on the march to Sacramento from Delano and the march on Gallo wines a year or so later.

As a city boy from San Francisco, I spent the summer in the lettuce fields of Salinas, as did many of Chavez's supporters. I'll never forget him shaking my hand, hugging me and telling me to spread the word of what was happening in the fields to the people of the soil. His ethics and morals were beyond reproach, and I tell my children about my meeting with him. How it lasted only five minutes, but he was a giant in a small frame, a man of power and conviction. No other Latino leader has come close to his greatness.

I will be forever grateful to Chavez for his love of the people of the field, his strength and love for God, and the effect the creation of the UFW had on me.

ROBERT RUIZ

San Pedro

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