Inside USD

Harvest of Justice: Honoring Farm Workers Movement Founders

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kayla Kawile, president of USD’s Filipino Ugnayan Student Organization (FUSO) and Hector Ramos, vice president, wrote this reflection in honor of Cesar Chavez and other founders of the Farm Workers Movement, Dolores Huerta and Philip Vera Cruz. Before spring break, members of FUSO, AChA, the United Front Multicultural Center and University Ministry hosted the 18th annual Farm Workers Movement Mass at Founders Chapel. Students participating in the Mass from left to right included Michael Shepard, Kawile, Ramos and Chelsey Kawile.

The work of Cesar Chavez, Philip Vera Cruz, Dolores Huerta and Larry Itliong created the United Farm Workers Union during the struggle or “La Causa” of the 1960s.

With the power of the people behind them, these leaders worked towards not only an improvement of labor conditions and creating a civil rights movement but also towards shaping an identity for Latino and Filipino-Americans. Their work inspired and continues to inspire young leaders, such as those present in our organizations, to fight towards preserving human dignity for all.

For the Filipino Ugnayan Student Organization (FUSO), the work of these leaders reminds us about how much power the people truly have. Strength in numbers, selflessness, and acting on your passion is something that we can learn from these leaders.

As the President and Vice President External of FUSO, we strive to incorporate the same attitude and mindset of these leaders in our own leadership as well as aim to foster a similar type of leadership in our members. Just as the Latino and Filipino-Americans showed their solidarity and unity between one another in the grape fields during the United Farm Workers Movement, we continue to teach our members, “Isang Bagsak.”

Also known as the unity clap, “Isang Bagsak” translates to “one down, one fall” which symbolizes the importance of the power of the people. This is to further the idea of creating unity amongst those who are oppressed and spreading awareness of the struggles of the past and the present.

We had the honor of having Father Juan Romero, who worked with Cesar Chavez, preside over AChA (Association of Chicano Activists) and FUSO’s Farm Workers’ Mass on March 21. His incorporation of a version of the unity clap during the Mass further solidified everything that our organizations have learned from the leaders of the United Farm Workers Movement.

– Kayla Kawile ‘13 and Hector Ramos ‘13

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