"If we are not intimidated, the children will not be intimidated."
The next day, the mood turned somber. On the outskirts of Soledad, Chavez stopped at a notorious labor camp where a gas leak had recently asphyxiated three workers and a young child. The owner tried to keep the marchers out, but they forced their way in and held a mass. Mariachis played during the memorial service, and Chavez used the tragedy to underscore the importance of their mission:
All of the work that we are doing is first and foremost, sincerely, to stop these deaths. So that this does not continue, to stop this suffering, to stop these pointless deaths that happen only because there are not proper places to live for us, the poor.
Then the caminata moved on, into Soledad, the only city with a Mexican American mayor, who prepared a warm welcome. Above all, it was the children of the city who most delighted Chavez:
When we arrived here, we noticed, there were so many children! What I love so much and gives me great encouragement is to see so many children! So many, many children, it’s encouraging, no? How can we not win? If we are not intimidated, the children will not be intimidated. You can be sure of that.
In all of the towns, in King City, last night in Greenfield, and now here, we have received a tremendous reception. Lots of people, hundreds and hundreds of workers, are with us. And that makes the work of the march so much easier, and also the success of what we are doing.
NEXT STOP ➾ ➾ ★ CHUALAR ➾ ➾