By: Trevor Loudon
When President Barack Obama recently paid tribute to the late United Farm Workers union leader Richard Chavez, he was in effect, saluting his own roots.
Richard Chavez, brother of U.F.W. founder Cesar Chavez, died July 27 aged 81, in Bakersfield, California.
“Richard fought for basic labor rights but also worked to improve the quality of life for countless farm workers,” said Obama in a statement . “And beyond his work, Richard was a family man.”
Obama added, “Richard understood that the struggle for a more perfect union and a better life for all America’s workers didn’t end with any particular victory or defeat, but instead required a commitment to getting up every single day to keep at it.”
Richard Chavez was connected to several strands of the movement that would eventually put their finest son, Barack Obama, into the White House.
He was, for over 40 years, the partner of a U.F.W. founder and long time Democratic Socialists of America Honorary Chair Dolores Huerta. Obama himself has enjoyed almost a thirty year relationship with D.S.A., the U.S.’s largest Marxist organization.
In 1951, Richard Chavez started a carpenter’s union apprenticeship program in San Jose and found work framing suburban homes. By 1952, he had moved to Delano, California where he served as president of the local chapter of the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group co-founded by his brother Cesar.
C.S.O., under the leadership of Los Angeles leftist President Ed Roybal (father of current congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, mentor to far left congressman Xavier Becerra) and organizer Fred Ross, and with the financial backing of independent Chicago radical Saul Alinsky, became a major force in “progressive” politics in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
C.S.O. created the first broad-based organization within the Los Angeles Mexican-American community. It had also established ties to organized labor, the Catholic Church, the Jewish community and to individuals in both the Democratic and Progressive parties, creating a broad based coalition that succeeded in electing Ed Roybal to the Los Angeles City council and then later to the U.S. Congress.
C.S.O. pioneered, with the assistance of Saul Alinsky, the type of multi-racial, multi-ethnic coalition that would elect Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency some 60 years later.
Both Ed Roybal and Cesar Chavez worked closely with a leading Los Angeles Communist Party USA member and Democratic Party activist, Bert Corona.
Bert Corona and Cesar Chavez, 1968
Corona also helped set up the C.S.O. and worked to elect Roybal to the Los Angeles City Council.
In 1959, Ed Roybal and Bert Corona met in Fresno to form the radical Mexican American Political Association. This organization’s mission was the support and promotion of Mexican American candidates within the Democratic Party. The young organization helped set up the Viva Kennedy clubs that, for the first time, brought large numbers of Mexican Americans into a Presidential campaign.
A few years later, a young Latino radical named Tony Vilar was trained by Bert Corona through M.A.P.A. Today, Antonio Villaraigosa as he is now known, serves as the Mayor of Los Angeles. In early 2009, he took a break from that job to serve on the Obama Transition Team.
In 1964, Chicano “civil rights” movement activists including Bert Corona, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta forced Congress to end the U.S. guest worker “bracero” program. The next year, Mexicans and Filipinos went out on strike in Coachella and Delano, and the United Farm Workers was born. Richard Chavez helped his brother set up the U.F.W. and continued to work for the organization for many years.
Bert Corona in turn owed his career to secret Communist Party member and International Longshore and Warehouse Union leader Harry Bridges.
According to Communist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America member David Bacon:
Corona came to Los Angeles to study at USC, where he went to work and was caught up in the labor ferment of the late 1930s. He became president of Local 26 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and a political ally of Harry Bridges, one of U.S. labor’s most progressive and democratic leaders.
After Corona was fired from ILWU position union over an internal dispute, Harry Bridges, also a major figure within the communist dominated Congress of Industrial Organisations , offered Corona a job as a CIO organizer.
Frank Marshall Davis
Harry Bridges also reportedly helped another leading Communist Party member with his career, Chicago based writer Frank Marshall Davis.
According to Davis’ autobiography, his 1948 move to Hawaii was recommended by singer/activist Paul Robeson (also a secret Communist Party member) and Harry Bridges. Davis met Bridges at the Chicago’s communist run Abraham Lincoln School, where Bridges recommended that he contact communist Koji Ariyoshi, editor of the union backed Honolulu Record. Davis subsequently worked for the paper for several years.
Circa 1970, Davis would meet, and go on mentor for several years, the young Barack Obama.
As late as 1973, Davis also served as a sponsor of the well known Communist Party front American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born (which mounted major campaigns to save Australian born Harry Bridges form deportation), alongside well known California communist and former democratic party Congressman, Hugh DeLacy.
April 12, 1973 ACFPFB letterhead
In 1967, DeLacy was involved in supporting Cesar Chavez. In a letter of gratitude to Hugh DeLacy, Chavez wrote “Jack Berman told me of all the hard work done by the committee members to insure the success of the party… your generosity on behalf of the Delano strikers will further the cause of social justice…”
Ten years later, DeLacy had formed a long lasting and close relationship to a young California Congressman named Leon Panetta – who was recently appointed by Barack Obama as U.S. Secretary of Defense.
In the late 1990s, Southern California Communist Party leader Evelina Alarcon and the United Farm Workers union began agitating to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a California public holiday.
Alarcon enlisted the support of Dolores Huerta and her brother, then Democratic Majority leader of the California State Senate, Richard Alarcon, who introduced Senate Bill-984, which would make March 31, Chavez’s birthday a paid public holiday.
That campaign succeeded, so Evelina Alarcon and the Communist Party launched the Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday to lobby for the holiday on a national basis. Endorsers of the campaign included Dolores Huerta and Antonio Villaraigosa.
The campaign scored a major propaganda coup in April 2008, when no less a figure than presidential candidate, Barack Obama publicly endorsed the idea.
Evelina Alarcon, Executive Director of Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday welcomed the backing for a Cesar Chavez national holiday from Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama who issued a statement on Cesar Chavez’s birthday Monday, March 31, 2008. “We at Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday appreciate the backing of a national holiday for Cesar Chavez from presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. That support is crucial because it takes the signature of a President to establish the holiday along with the Congress’s approval,” stated Evelina Alarcon. “It is also encouraging that Senator Hillary Clinton who is a great admirer of Cesar Chavez acknowledged him on his birthday. We hope that she too will soon state her support for a Cesar Chavez national holiday.”
Evelina Alarcon scored another coup in June 2008, when presented a poster from her organization to Barack Obama’s younger sister Maya Soetoro-Ng at a gathering in East Los Angeles.
Standing, Evelina Alarcon left, Maya Soetoro-Ng, right
Addressing a largely Latino audience in East Los Angeles yesterday, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng shared stories about her childhood with her older brother, Barack Obama, and the effect he has had on her life. Held in El Sereno’s Hecho en Mexico restaurant, the event drew more than a hundred enthusiastic community activists, local elected officials, and regular citizens…
Evelina Alarcon, a notable Obama supporter and the sister of long-time Los Angeles politician Richard Alarcon, presented a poster to Obama’s sister commemorating the life of Cesar Chavez.
Alarcon recounted the accomplishments of the late Chicano leader and argued persuasively for honoring his accomplishments with a national holiday. Reminding those in attendance that Barack Obama supports the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. Alarcon trusts that if Obama is elected president the holiday will become a reality.
Obama has been quoted recently to say:“As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago and we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”
Cesar Chavez’s famous slogan was “Si se puede” – later used in English translation “yes we can” for the Obama campaign of 2008.
Barack Obama, however, has more in common than a campaign slogan with Cesar Chavez.
Like Cesar Chavez, Barack Obama was made into an icon by an unholy alliance of communists, socialists and Alinskyites.
Cesar Chavez didn’t make a movement, a movement made Cesar Chavez. The same movement “made” Barack Obama – and Richard Alarcon, Antonio Villaraigoas, even to some degree Leon Panetta.
By saluting Richard Chavez, Barack Obama was just just showing a little gratitude.