These days, grapes in the grocery store don’t seem that controversial. But 50 years ago, a historic workers’ strike in the vineyards of California’s Central Valley set in motion the most significant campaign in modern labor history: the Farmworker Movement.
The United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez are widely known: They first came to prominence as the face of a strike of grape pickers in the 1960s that prompted an international boycott of table grapes. But there’s a part of that movement’s history that’s rarely told — and it traces back to Delano, Calif., a pretty typical hot, dry farm community.
In this town’s unassuming corners, the true story of the Delano Grape Strike unfolded. There’s a white stucco building on the edge of town where Chavez held his first hunger strike, and a high school auditorium where then-Sen. Bobby Kennedy spoke in support of the farmworkers . . .