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Cesar Chavez is the most prominent Latino in United States history books, and much has been written about Chavez and the United Farm Worker's heyday in the 1960s and '70s. But left untold has been their ongoing impact on 21st century social justice movements. Beyond the Fields unearths this legacy, and describes how Chavez and the UFW's imprint can be found in the modern reshaping of the American labor movement, the building of Latino political power, the transformation of Los Angeles and California politics, the fight for environmental justice, and the burgeoning national movement for immigrant rights. Many of the ideas, tactics, and strategies that Chavez and the UFW initiated or revived—including the boycott, the fast, clergy-labor partnerships and door-to-door voter outreach—are now so commonplace that their roots in the farmworkers' movement is forgotten.
This powerful book also describes how the UFW became the era's leading incubator of young activist talent, creating a generation of skilled alumni who went on to play critical roles in progressive campaigns. UFW volunteers and staff were dedicated to furthering economic justice, and many devoted their post-UFW lives working for social change. When Barack Obama adopted “Yes We Can” as his 2008 campaign theme, he confirmed that the spirit of “Si Se Puede” has never been stronger, and that it still provides the clearest roadmap for achieving greater social and economic justice in the United States.
Bay Area community organizer Shaw (Reclaiming America) examines the enduring influence of the United Farm Workers' model of grassroots organization, which he pointedly credits with the majority of labor's successes since the 1960s and a wellspring of 21st-century movements for democratic rights. He retells the story of Cesar Chavez and the UFW's unprecedented success in mobilizing a broad coalition as well as winning political clout and material gains for workers through such tactics as boycotts, appeals to spiritual values, fasting and community-centered organizing. Shaw describes a generation of young activists passing through the UFW's crucible of idealism, sacrifice and individual initiative, and into a lifetime of service to social justice causes; indeed, it was the very success of the UFW's campaigns that contributed, ironically, to a gradual power drain on the union in the 1980s. Leading organizers and political strategists like Susan Sachen and Marshall Ganz went on to work for other unions like SEIU or were hired away by mainstream electoral campaigns. Finally, Shaw evaluates the capacities of today's labor movement to build on the UFW's legacy of self-directed, on-the-ground training, political solidarity and far-reaching social idealism. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Invaluable for anyone interested in the evolution of unionization over the past forty years."--The Washington Monthly
"A useful resource for anyone interested in organizing, activism, or social movements."--Daily Kos
"Examines the enduring influence of the United Farm Workers' model of grassroots organization." Starred Review--Publishers Weekly
"[An] important study."--Z Magazine
List of Illustrations
1. Cesar Chavez and the UFW: Revival of the Consumer Boycott
2. The UFW Boycott Transformed
3. Building the Clergy-Labor Alliance: Reviving the Fast
4. Yes We Cane: Miami's Janitors Struggle for Justice
5. The UFW Battles Pesticides
6. The UFW Grassroots Political Model: Legislative Advocacy and Voter Outreach
7. The Labor-Latino Alliance
8. Building the Immigrant Rights Movement: Sí Se Puede!
9. The Immigrant Rights Movement Explodes
10. The Decline of the UFW
11. Harvesting Justice beyond the Fields: The Ongoing Legacy of
Conclusion: Fostering Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century