The loss of Senator Ted Kennedy has been felt widely across America, especially among those in the Rio Grande Valley who saw him as a champion for immigrant and farm worker rights. He first came to the Valley in 1960 to campaign for his brother, John F. Kennedy’s bid for presidency. In 1967, Sen. Kennedy was back in the Valley to partake in subcommittee hearings to push for organized farm labor. Sen. Kennedy was a long-time friend of Cesar Chavez and was heavily involved in advocating for the farm workers’ movement.
Here is a clip of Juan Gonzales from Democracy Now! on the relationship between Ted Kennedy & Cesar Chavez:
“In 1969, Ted Kennedy marched with the farm workers to Calexico on the Mexican border in California…an eight-day, 200-mile march that was one of the turning points, the pivotal moments in the history of United Farm Workers. He then spoke at their founding convention of the Farm Workers. And throughout his career, Kennedy was the main defender of trying to get immigration reform, migrant education for children of migrants.”
– Juan Gonzales
A member of LUPE, Francisco Martinez, who worked closely with Cesar Chavez and had the opportunity to visit Sen. Kennedy and hear his speeches, said:
“We have lost a great champion in the struggle to win immigration reform and healthcare reform. Now we must work even harder to realize the dreams that we shared with Senator Kennedy.”
Famous picture of Cesar Chavez, Ted Kennedy and Coretta Scott King at a “No on Proposal 22” rally in the 1970’s:
Cesar Chavez and Sen. Kennedy addressing the U.S. Senate in 1985: