Some 50 peregrinos (pilgrims) began our 13-day, 200-mile march in 100-plus degrees on Tuesday in Madera bound for the state Capitol in Sacramento on Sunday, Sept. 4. They include a nurse, driver of the water truck and bathrooms, unionized farm workers, including two from Gallo in Sonoma County and one from California Mushroom Farms in Ventura plus non-union Madera-area raisin and vegetable workers. Among those marchers were Sylvia Chavez Delgado, Cesar Chavez's oldest daughter, her husband, George Delgado, UFW board member Diana Tellefson, members of the Teamsters and electrical workers unions, and college students. Also accompanying us is a van from Radio Campesina, the farm worker radio network, for music and support. Leaving Madera, three farm worker women came up to us. "We can't march with you, Arturo, but this is for food and water for the marchers," one said. They handed us $19.
All along the way, motorists and truckers honked their horns in support. We started marching at 10 a.m. Tuesday and finished at 6 p.m., after 15 miles, in the small town of Le Grand. A Latino motorcycle club from Merced, Mi Gente (My People), escorted us the last few blocks. The Society of Guadalupanas, a women's church group, prepared food for the 100 people who joined our open-air rally at a local park. People opened their homes to put up the marchers at night.
Father Mike McAndrew of the Fresno Catholic Diocese, who is also joining us, said Mass at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning on the side of the road before we started walking. Later, the Mi Gente Latino bikers will greet us on the outskirts of Merced, escort the marchers through the town's neighborhoods and prepare dinner for everyone.
Arturo S. Rodriguez, President United Farm Workers of America