Winter Board Meeting Reflections from Dr. Sam Trickey:
At first, it seems a little selfish or egotistical to offer personal reflections. After all, NFWM is a collective, communal effort. The Board is people of diverse faith traditions and commitments drawn together by the urge, indeed the imperative, to seek social and economic justice for farm workers by partnering with them and giving them added voice and leverage.
But maybe that is the point. Those additional voices, those added levers, are provided by distinct individuals. They energize their organizations to act, to endorse, to advocate for farm workers. Perhaps a bit of insight about one person’s involvement will help motivate or reinvigorate someone else’s. That’s the spirit of the remarks that follow. They aren’t a summary of the meeting content, which was rich, varied, informative, and stimulating.
Start with the sessions at La Paz in Keene, CA. Walking about brought back many memories. I first went there in summer 1973. UFW had come into my life through my first Father-in-law. He was a Presbyterian pastor to Mexican-American congregations who followed his flock northward in summers for farm work in Illinois and Wisconsin. We talked with Cesar Chavez in front of the building, which is now replicated as the museum and memorial. I’ve stood in his preserved office. I last talked with Cesar alone in person at La Paz after his 1988 fast ended. Working his garden, he sat on a little tractor as we talked. There are many other memories. All that personal history came flooding back.
But why do it? In Bakersfield, we had heard the answer plainly from Dolores Huerta. Here was a tiny, 90-something-year-old woman still organizing, still advocating. With her record of achievement and effectiveness, she could have retired long since. Yet she has not. She spoke with us for nearly two hours. “What keeps you going?” she was asked. Unhesitatingly, she replied, “there’s work to do.” Think about that answer there’s work to do. That’s why the NFWM Board was there. That’s NFWM’s call. It is personal too.
The chance, the challenge, the necessity of doing some of this work changed my life about 55 years ago. It made me try to take seriously the Biblical injunctions about the “least of these”. It made me think seriously about who today is Lazarus sitting at the rich ruler’s gate. It made me realize that the privilege of being a Physics Professor implied an obligation – but also an opportunity! I must put my talents at public speaking and writing, my Spanish fluency, my understanding of accounting, my knowledge of protestant Christianity, to the service of farm workers. Otherwise, I would both wither into selfishness and dishonor the memory of my Mexican immigrant in-laws.
To sum – the locations both reminded me of personal history as I grow old and of the work yet to be done.
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