Cesar Chavez, leader of California's striking grape-pickers, last night praised a capacity audience in Lowell Lecture Hall for students' early support of his union's efforts, then declared his support for the Vietnam Moratorium before another gathering in Sanders Theatre.
"We owe a great debt to students for working to bring peace to our country," the 42-year-old union organizer told the second group. "We have learned much from you."
The strike of the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC), which Chavez heads, against the table grape growers of the west coast is in its forty-ninth month. The national boycott of table grapes organized by the UFWOC has reduced domestic purchases by 30 per cent, Chavez said.
Last night, Chavez sharply criticized the U.S. Department of Defense for its recently stepped-up purchases of grapes for consumption by military servicemen.
The Defense Department, Chavez said, is using its "overwhelming power for the sole purpose of breaking the strike."
The 800 students in Lowell Lecture Hall gave Chavez two standing ovations, and responded with "Viva" to chants of "Viva la Huegla." They also joined in singing two verses of "We Shall Overcome."
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