You will note that the book includes study questions with each chapter after the epilogue. If you look those questions over in advance, you will have a solid foundation to build upon for this assignment. Below you will find questions from each of the chapters. You are to select one question from each chapter and write thoughtful paragraphs addressing the question. Also, respond to questions that are underlined. Please be sure to explain all facets of the question being asked.
Your first task is to write a brief history of agricultural labor in our state. Carey McWilliams called the farms here in California factories in the fields. Though there is much talk of ideal family farm in this nation, this has not been the case in California. You have read In Dubious Battle and seen The Grapes of Wrath. What is the unique story concerning farming in the Golden State as far as labor is concerned?
People to Know
Identify who and why important to the story in a brief statement.
Saul Alinsky, Jerry Brown, Mohandas Gandhi, Fred Ross, Emiliano Zapata
Child of Immigrants
1. Chicanos experience racial discrimination similar to Blacks. Discuss how attitudes and treatment are similar And how they differ.
2. Religion shaped the life of Chavez. What made his religious beliefs different from non Mexicans and what were those religious influences?
3. Describe the push and pull factors that bring immigrants from Mexico to the U.S. Do you think the average Americans understands or cares about such issues? Explain
1. Discuss Chavez’s experience with the Community Service Organization and how it became a spring board to leadership. What was different about the problems facing the Chicano community?
2. What was the bracero program and why did growers embrace it, while Chavez and others worked to end it?
3. Who were the influential people in the life of Chavez? What did he learn from each of them? Be specific by stating the people and their influences.
1. Describe the conditions facing the farm workers in the years preceding the founding of the UFW. What were the challenges facing Chavez and his supporters in building a union?
2. We know that workers’ efforts to organize led to their being tainted by the brush of communism. Chavez was able to diffuse this fairly successfully. How did he do it? Did his methods impact other efforts to organize workers, based upon what you read in the book? Why or why not?
3. The farm workers would have a long history of conflict with the Teamsters. Who were the Teamsters and why would there be “bad blood” between the two?
The Grape Strike
1. What were the issues that led to the initial strike? Did the farm workers take any unique actions and what was the response of their employers? How did Chavez and the farm workers use the public in their battle?
2. Liberation theology played an important role in the struggle for dignity, civil rights and justice. Explain the ideas of liberation theology and why members of the religious community joined forces with the farm workers.
3. Who is Dolores Huerta? What was her role in la causa and how important was her role? What does her experience and role tell us about gender in the Latino community?
The Heroic Years
1. Employers turned to scabs to break the strike. Who did the resort to using as strike breakers? What is the INS and how did Chavez use that agency in the fight?
2. Chavez used the fast to galvanize his followers. What were the problems the movement was facing at the time of the fast? Why was he criticized? Did the fast work?
3. Why did Cesar Chavez ally with the Democratic Party and what role did Walter Reuther and Robert Kennedy play in the struggle?
Chavez and the Chicano Movement
1. Who were the main leaders of the movement and define their goals. How was Chavez similar to his counter parts and how was he different? Why did he become the best known and the most respected leader?
Union in Fact
1. Civil Disobedience has a long tradition in the United States. What are its principles and purposes? How effective is its use in general and how did Chavez employ passive resistance?
2. How did President Nixon’s and Ronald Reagan’s role make the union’s job more difficult? Who were their allies and what initiatives did they take to throw the union off balances?
Union in Crisis and in Retreat
1. Describe the backlash in the nation concerning the union movement in the 70’s & 80’s. Did the political climate in the country help or hinder the movement? Explain how Chavez attempted to deal with the changing situation.
2. The emerging environmental movement allowed Chavez to shift ground. What were his ideas in relation to the new awareness and how did he use that awareness to the workers’ advantage?
Chavez seems to have left a mixed legacy. Some view his as a saint and others a hypocrite. What are these two points of view and where do you come down in the debate?