Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cesar Chavez: American Hero

Michael Peas Cesar Chavez

In the 1960s, women had Betty Friedan, Blacks had Martin Luther King and American farm workers had Cesar Chavez. The story of how he organized the California farm workers has never been told at the multiplex. Until now.

This biopic suffers from the sanctification of its hero. He never emerges as a fully rounded man. But about twenty minutes into the flick —after a rushed beginning that should have told more about him — moviegoers are likely to get caught up in the story and go with the flow.

The narrative takes us back to a time when the farm workers toiled in the fields for $2 a day and lived in squalor. Bobbie Kennedy, had he survived, was on the verge of championing their cause. But as years passed, they were thwarted by Presidents Reagan and Nixon.

Living up to his sobriquet, Tricky Dick almost defeated them by allowing the export of grapes when the American public boycotted them in solidarity with the workers.

It's an inspiring, triumphant story and one that resonates today as obscenely wealthy CEOs refuse to raise the minimum wage.

When will they ever learn?

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