ListServe Archive – May 2004 to January 2005
View 2004 Discussions by Month
From May 2004 to January 2005, at the suggestion of former UFW volunteer, Kevin Brown, the Documentation Project sponsored an online discussion about the farmworker movement. LeRoy Chatfield served as the discussion moderator/administrator. More than 275 farmworker volunteers participated in the discussion. Jeff Sweetland, a labor attorney from Milwaukee and a former UFW volunteer, edited the eight-month-long discussion for the purpose of making it more readable.
Editing the UFW Volunteer ListServe Discussion
May 2004 – December 2004
By Jeff Sweetland
In 2004, LeRoy Chatfield brought together more than 275 former United Farm Workers (UFW) organizers, volunteer staff and supporters for an online listserve discussion about the UFW and about Cesar Chávez, its founder and guiding spirit. Like the original documentation project, the online discussion covered the period from 1962, when Cesar set up the National Farm Worker Association, to 1993, when he died, still firmly in charge of the UFW.
For eight months, from May 8, 2004 to January 2, 2005, the participants shared their memories, opinions, analyses and feelings about their experiences with the UFW, about its trajectory during those first three decades and, above all, about Cesar. The contributions of so many created a rich tapestry of history and commentary. In the process, they laughed, cried, reminisced and argued. They inspired, entertained, infuriated and comforted each other. They also rediscovered their great love for each other and for the movement – la Causa – that had left such an indelible imprint on all their lives.
Most had lost contact with their former comrades decades earlier and had gone their separate ways. Few, however, had strayed very far from their UFW roots in their subsequent careers. While they communed on the listserve over things that had happened 20, 30 or 40 years before, they continued to lead their vibrant, active lives. In October 2004, many of them, inveterate organizers all, answered the call to go wherever they were needed, to help get out the vote for the Democratic presidential campaign of John Kerry and John Edwards.
This is a record of that remarkable conversation. As you read it, you will learn much about the UFW and about Cesar Chávez. You will also come to know the extraordinary people who, with their passion, dedication and indomitable “si se puede” spirit, helped Cesar build up the UFW into a beacon of hope and dignity for farmworkers everywhere.
Postings that dealt simply with listserve housekeeping matters have been omitted. So have extensive “off-topic” commentaries about subjects that did not directly involve farmworkers, the UFW or the people who made up the UFW. For the most part, everything else is here.