In 1965, as the grapes in California’s Coachella Valley were ready to harvest, migrant Filipino American workers—who picked and readied the crop for shipping—negotiated a wage of $1.40 per hour, the same wage growers had agreed to pay guest workers from Mexico. But when the Filipino grape pickers moved north to Delano, in the Central Valley, and again asked for $1.40 an hour, the growers refused. The ensuing conflict set off one of the longest and most successful strikes in American history.
Cesar Chavez is known as one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. When he led a 340-mile peaceful protest march through California, he ignited a cause and improved the lives of thousands of migrant farmworkers. But Cesar wasn’t always a leader. As a boy, he was shy and teased at school. His family slaved in the fields for barely enough money to survive.
Cesar knew things had to change, and he thought that–maybe–he could help change them. So he took charge. He spoke up. And an entire country listened.
An author’s note provides historical context for the story of Cesar Chavez’s life.
Thirteen-year-old Bella wants to be a lector just like her grandfather. All day long he sits on a special platform in the cigar factory in Ybor City, Florida, reading books, newspapers, and current events to workers as they roll the cigars. Lectors have always been highly respected members of their Cuban American community.But now times are changing. When the factory workers clash with the owners, violence erupts and the lectors start losing their jobs. And then there’s the radio. Could this small device replace the lector? It’s up to Bella to determine her future and help her people preserve their history.