Saturday, February 26, 2011

Report back: Randy Shaw Lecture at the University of Oregon

Randy Shaw, author of a activist guide, the history of the Anit-sweatshop campaign and most recently 'Beyond the Fields'.

Shaw's presentation focused on 'Beyond the fields, a look at the volunteers and organizers of Cesar Chavez' United Farm Worker's Movement (UFW). From the rise of movement involving un-protected workers and disenfranchised people who maintained a multi-year boycott and eventually won victories in field strikes- to the fall of this great organizing feat.

Beyond the fields focuses on the unknown organizers and the difficult circumstances. With Regan as governor of California and Nixon as President of the United States, Chavez was able to organize isolated workers across huge geographical regions. "Chavez got people to overcome fear, as part of a lifetime moral struggle for justice".

"He [Chavez] brought in students and children. He said "We will change the dynamic of struggle", with women organizers. The UAW and steelworkers had no women"-Shaw.

The dedication, melded between religious symbols and phenomenal organizers, made an impossible situation a reality. "These organizers were paid $5 dollars a day, plus room and board" said Shaw, indicating the sacrifice and importance of the mission which UFW instilled in its organizers at all ages.

The great take-away lessons of Shaw's interpretation, are that we must recruit in to uncommon areas, reaching out to groups who may disagree 95% of the time but that we can work together on just this issue and that no matter how hostile the environment, we should fight and can win victories!

No comments: