About 50 years ago, 14 million Americans stopped eating grapes — for a very good reason.
True
AFL Labor Mini Series

When I was in my early teens, I was aware of the grape boycotts that made the United Farm Workers a household name. Being raised in a union family, I kind of had an understanding of boycotts and how they affected things. And I was definitely aware of strikes, since my dad — and, consequently, the family — weathered a few of those at John Deere. And when we went to the grocery store, we were always cautioned not to buy California table grapes.

A Latina woman named Dolores Huerta was the seed and a good chunk of the powerhouse behind what eventually became the United Farmworkers Union, which made huge improvements to the lives of largely migrant farmworkers who worked the fields of California.


In the early 1950s, Huerta got a degree and then began teaching elementary school in Stockton, California, where she saw that her students were living in poverty with not enough to eat and other basic life necessities not met. She became one of the founders of the Community Service Organization in Stockton, which was instrumental in beginning to improve conditions for farmworkers and to fight discrimination. It also helped people fill out tax forms, get children into schools, and study for citizenship.


Also active in this effort were Gilbert Padilla and Cesar Chávez.


Chávez was active in organizing area workers to become more politically active and try to change things. The combination of Huerta's organizing and negotiating skills and the talents of Chávez, which included dynamic leadership and public speaking prowess, made them nearly unstoppable. They formed the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA).

One of the key tactics to their success was going door-to-door and holding house meetings, which connected people in community-based, intimate ways.

It worked.

The big event that birthed the United Farm Workers was when Filipino workers at Delano table grape growers struck, and the NFWA voted to join them. It was a rare instance of unity among two separate groups of workers with distinctly different heritages. They knew that employers often pitted workers in one area and type of farming against another whenever they demanded better wages and job conditions, so it was a prime opportunity for solidarity.

This was also a critical time to use the tactic of community support to rally people around them, especially with the political and financial resources that the grape growers would use against them.

But what also helped immensely was the use of nonviolence as both a tactic and a moral principle to guide them.

A national grape boycott was called.

A hunger strike by Chávez brought thousands of farm workers out to see him daily and to the evening masses, and it solidified their resolve. Robert Kennedy came out to meet him. Combined with pressure and awareness of the grape boycott from other unions like the UAW and AFSCME, as well as time and financial assistance to the strikers, in 1969, Delano finally came to the table and agreed to a new contract.

At its peak, 14 million Americans participated in the grape boycott.

What did they win?

— An end to the abusive system of “labor contracting," which meant jobs could be assigned by favoritism and bribery. Now, they had a hiring hall, with guaranteed seniority and hiring rights.

— Protection from the pesticides that sickened and killed many farmworkers

— Wage increases

— Fresh water and toilets in the fields (previously scarce commodities)

— A medical plan so farmworkers could access health benefits

In 1972, the United Farm Workers were officially accepted into the AFL-CIO.

A movie about the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chávez was released in 2014; here is the trailer in case you want to dig a little deeper. Link to the movie itself is below.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

When it comes to the topic of race, we all have questions. And sometimes, it honestly can be embarrassing to ask perfectly well-intentioned questions lest someone accuse you of being ignorant, or worse, racist, for simply admitting you don't know the answer.

America has a complicated history with race. For as long as we've been a country, our culture, politics and commerce have been structured in a way to deny our nation's past crimes, minimize the structural and systemic racism that still exists and make the entire discussion one that most people would rather simply not have.

For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

As the once-celebrated Information Age devolves into the hell-hole-ish Misinformation Age, many of us feel a desperate sense of despair. It's one thing to have diverse perspectives on issues; it's entirely another to have millions of people living in an alternate reality where up is down, left is right, and a global pandemic is a global hoax put on by a powerful cabal of Satanic, baby-eating, pedophile elites.

Watching a not-insignificant portion of your country fall prey to false—and sometimes flat out bonkers—narratives is disconcerting. Watching politicians and spokespeople spout those narratives on national television is downright terrifying.

Clearly, the U.S. is not the only country with politicians who pander to conspiracy theorists for their own gain, but not every country lets them get away with it. In a now-viral interview, New Zealand's Tova O'Brien spoke with one her country's fringe political party leaders and showed journalists exactly how to handle a misinformation peddler.

Her guest was Jami-Lee Ross, leader of the Advance New Zealand party, which failed to garner enough votes in the country's general election this weekend to enter parliament. The party, which got less than one percent of the vote, had spread misinformation about the coronavirus on social media, and Ross's co-leader, Billy Te Kahika, is a known conspiracy theorist.

But O'Brien came prepared to shut down that nonsense.

Keep Reading Show less