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United Farm Workers commemorates 50th anniversary of march from Delano to Sacramento

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy meets Cesar Chavez on March 14, 1966, in Delano and pledges his support to the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and its strike against grape growers who refused to recognize the union. Kennedy was joined by two other members of the Senate Subcommittee on Migrant Labor in visits to labor camps in Linnell (Tulare County) and Delano – New Jersey Democrat Harrison Williams, the committee chairman, and California Republican George Murphy.
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy meets Cesar Chavez on March 14, 1966, in Delano and pledges his support to the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and its strike against grape growers who refused to recognize the union. Kennedy was joined by two other members of the Senate Subcommittee on Migrant Labor in visits to labor camps in Linnell (Tulare County) and Delano – New Jersey Democrat Harrison Williams, the committee chairman, and California Republican George Murphy. Fresno Bee file

Farmworkers who walked from Delano to Sacramento starting on March 17, 1966, will gather Thursday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic march.

That day, 75 Latino and Filipino grape workers led by Cesar Chavez took off on the 340-mile march. They were greeted at the Capitol 25 days later by 10,000 people in support of their plight.

A strike had started Sept. 8, 1965, when Filipino farmworkers walked out on Delano grape growers to protest years of poor pay and working conditions. Mexican workers joined them shortly after. Six months later, they started the trek to Sacramento.

The strike lasted more than five years and grew to include an international boycott by consumers of nonunion grapes. It ended with victory for what became the United Farm Workers – the first contract between growers and farmworkers in U.S. history.

Thursday at 10 a.m., a few hundred people will assemble at the Forty Acres property outside Delano for Mass, among them more than a dozen of the original marchers and family members of those who have since died. At 11 a.m. a ceremony sponsored by UFW will celebrate the 50th anniversary.

Luis Valdez, co-founder of El Teatro Campesino who performed music and theater during the pilgrimage, will be host of the event.

Delano march 50th anniversary

Who: Activists, 1966 marchers and their families; playwright/director Luis Valdez; UFW President Arturo Rodriguez; civil rights and farm labor icon Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul Chavez

What: Mass and ceremony honoring the original marchers 50 years to the day the 25-day trek started

When: 10 a.m. Mass, 11 a.m. ceremony, Thursday, March 17

Where: The historic Forty Acres property, 30168 Garces Highway in Delano

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