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Monday, August 1, 2011

PCUN and CAPACES network remember and celebrate the life and example of Richard Chávez

Our movement joins countless others in honoring Richard Chávez. He passed away in Bakersfield, California on July 27th at the age of 81.

Richard was well-known and rightfully much respected as a co-founder of the United Farm Workers union. We deeply appreciate his life long contributions to the farmworker struggle.

Richard holds a special place in our movement’s history in Oregon and in our hearts. Forty years ago, he joined his older brother, César, and Dolores Huerta on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. They led the opposition to a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature drastically restricting farmworkers rights to unionize. Thanks to the pressure they organized, Gov. Tom McCall vetoed the bill, though reluctantly.

On April 28, 1994, Richard represented the UFW movement and the Chávez family at the dedication ceremony of PCUN’s headquarters as “Risberg Hall.” He joined Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts and folksinger/activist Pete Seeger on that joyous and historic occasion, PCUN’s 9th anniversary. Richard’s words that day conveyed the respect, the support, and the cariño—the affection—that he, the UFW, and his brother César all had for PCUN.

FHDC staff and board representatives
with Richard Chavez

We last connected with Richard in June 2010 at “La Paz”, the UFW compound in Keene, California. The occasion was the dedication of the new conference center there. He was brimming with joy—as a movement leader and as a builder—to see yet another of the movement’s dreams realized.

Finally, we remember Richard as a master carpenter. When César died suddenly on April 23, 1993, Richard applied his skills and love to the task of building a simple pine coffin for César. We cherish the beauty and the power of that image: a craftsman, dedicated to family, serving La Causa.

Richard Chávez ¡Presente!


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