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In the 1960s, grapes were being picked and sold with pesticides. Farm workers would be working with and breathing toxins every day. Cesar Chavez wanted to raise awareness about the grapes the farmers were picking. Even if the grapes contained pesticide, they were still being sold in stores which were causing harm to the buyers. This paper explores, the original “Wrath Of Grapes” speech, the different thoughts about what people thought of Cesar Chavez speeches and boycotts, and the impact it had on the community and people. The “Wraths of Grapes “, revealed the true dangers of the grapes which prompted people to strike, and continues to impact communities today.
Farmworkers worked long hours every day and were given low wages. Before Cesar Chavez formed his union, farm workers led strikes to improve their working conditions. Farmers were working very long hours and getting little to no pay. In 1952, Chavez began his journey as a community organizer. This organization fought for change for all farmers. Workers were not given clean water and had to work around pesticide. Strike, after strike, their conditions were not improving because “The grape-growing industry refused to grant workers’ demands for better pay and working conditions”. Because of this decision, Chavez wanted to spread his boycott countrywide. His goal was to get people to stop buying the grapes. The grape growing industry did not want to listen to anything Chavez and his organization had to say. He not only wanted to spread awareness about the grapes but also about the struggles of the farmers. This boycott was everywhere. If the grapes were not being bought, the demand for grapes would drop. The store would even drop the prices of the grapes to get people to still purchase them. Because of these low wages and working conditions, the wrath of grapes painted a picture of the struggles farm workers experienced.
The “Wrath of Grapes” opened people’s eyes to the truth about the harms that the grapes could cause. Chavez wrote this speech to touch millions of people about the biggest boycott in history. He wanted to talk to people as one, a family and a community. The Farmers are the closest to food production (Sumner). Without the farmer picking and growing food, there would be no food. Chavez says that The Environmental Protection Agency experts have informed the community that, pesticides and different other poisons have been found in different food products that are the cause of cancer, imutions, and birth defects. They also informed our communities that the cause of farm workers illness is pesticides. Even though the Environmental protection agency warned the community that people are still purchasing grapes that have caused illness. Some of these effects may be safe for a healthy male, but they may not be for a child or for a woman who is pregnant. A three year old girl, Amalia Larios was born with a spinal defect because of the exposure to pesticides from her mom. Chavez was able to paint the picture of the effects and toxics about the grapes.
Beyond the facts, Chavez wants to touch people by saying, “What we do know absolutely is that human lives are worth more than grapes and the innocent looking grapes on the table in disguise poisonous residues hidden deep inside where washing cannot reach”. A human’s life is worth more than a couple of grapes. Chavez said this to let his community know that each one of their lives matters, but it can be taken away any minute if they don’t put a stop to the pesticide in the grapes.
The “Wrath of Grapes” was a platform to help farmers voice their demands. Chavez wrote this speech to be able to explain the dangers of the grapes being sold, but to also voice the demands of the farmers. The fruit that is being eaten has all been picked by farmers at one point. Picking fruit especially grapes while breathing in toxic chemicals. Their sources of water have been already polluted with pesticides. The demands the farmers wanted to voice are, “ A ban on the most dangerous pesticides used in grape production, a program that test for poison being sold in stores, a free and fair election for all farmers and good faith bargaining”. The demands were to make the working conditions better, a higher wage, and for grapes to stop being sold in stores. If these demands were not met, the grape boycott will keep reaching different states. Chavez was asking for the community’s commitment to helping achieve these demands. All they asked where to get rid of the most dangerous pesticides, a testing program, fair elections, and good faith bargaining. The farmers would not take no for an answer. The “Wrath of Grapes” was able to spread the news all over the nation to help achieve these demands.
It’s 1970, and the boycott is back again, but this time in the tech industry. Chavez and his people had been organizing for over twenty three years but it is not over yet. Chavez speech and union was nonviolent and opened the door to everyone to come and participate in the movement (Steven). The boycott is back with Chavez one goal, to get equal rights for all farm workers. If Chavez promised one goal so why is it still going on? Just because the boycott was over doesn’t mean farmers should not be getting what they deserve. Even if they, “come from the universities or the grape and lettuce fields, the staffers still work for room, board, clothes and $10 a week pocket money, sleep in the homes of supporters or in their cars, and give their lives to La Causa”. Chavez was able to get equal rights for farm works. Nowadays, people in tech companies where you would expect workers are making a lot of money are living paycheck to paycheck. Chavez made an impact on many people across the nation. Yes, Chavez was able to get equal rights for his people but now there are different people experiencing low wages. Even as people are protesting or on strike, Chavez determination, energy, and spirit still live on in everyone’s work. People are able to use Chavez words and actions into their own strikes. No matter how much time passes, the boycott will still remain a big part of the world by helping people fight for their rights.
Cesar Chavez speech, the “Wrath of Grapes”, had a negative impact on people as well. The wrath of grapes was supposed to be a positive, nonviolent act. Some people did not take it that way. People thought as if nothing was wrong with the grapes and still continued to purchase them. Chavez was called a liar, and the boycott was called phony. John Giumarra Jr, one of the largest growers, said, “He just tells wild lies, “California farm workers have among the highest wages of any farm workers in our country. And our grapes are completely safe, that whole pesticide scary is phony”. The grapes are safe. There is no type of toxics as Giumarra says. His statement made people believe that the grapes were safe and the boycott is all for nothing. Farm workers were paid very low wages up to $1.00- $7.00. Farmers still had families to support. The grape boycott became a part of the culture everywhere.
The strikes against buying grapes were caused by the dangerous news given by the wrath of grapes speech by Chavez. He used his strikes and the “Wrath of Grapes” to spread awareness of the dangers the grapes were doing to people, especially the farmers. He opened the eyes of many who were buying grapes that there were toxic chemicals being added which could cause people to become ill. If the “Wrath of Grapes” was not written, there is a possibility that there would still be pesticides in our grapes today.
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