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Proclamation of the Delano Grape Workers—Historic Proclamation

A proclamation is an official public announcement. Proclamations can be used to explain the actions of a person or group of people. It may also express the point of view of a person or group of people on an issue. The proclamation below was made by Dolores Huerta in 1969 to explain why the striking grape workers in California wanted consumers to boycott grapes.


Primary Source

“We, the striking grape workers of California, join on this International Boycott Day with the consumers across the continent in planning the steps that lie ahead on the road to our liberation. As we plan, we recall the footsteps that brought us to this day and the events of this day . . . .

We have been farm workers for hundreds of years and pioneers for seven. Mexicans, Filipinos, Africans and others, our ancestors were among those who founded this land and tamed its natural wilderness. But we are still pilgrims on this land, and we are pioneers who blaze a trail out of the wilderness of hunger and deprivation that we have suffered even as our ancestors did. We are conscious today of the significance of our present quest. If this road we chart leads to the rights and reforms we demand, if it leads to just wages, humane working conditions, protection from the misuse of pesticides . . . if it changes the social order that relegates us to the bottom reaches of society, then in our wake will follow thousands of American farm workers. Our example will make them free . . . .

Grapes must remain an unenjoyed luxury for all as long as the barest human needs and basic human rights are still luxuries for farm workers. The grapes grow sweet and heavy on the vines, but they will have to wait while we reach out first for our freedom. The time is ripe for our liberation.”

Excerpted from the “Proclamation of the Delano Grape Workers for International Boycott Day,” May 10, 1969.


Background

In 1962, Caesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta formed the United Farm Workers union. A union is a group of workers who join together to protect each other's rights. In 1965, the union went on strike against grape growers in Delano, California. By refusing to work, they hoped to gain higher pay and better working conditions. Later, the workers organized a consumer boycott of grapes. The arguments made in the proclamation above convinced many consumers not to buy grapes. At one point, more than 14 million Americans stopped buying grapes as a way to support the striking workers. The strike and boycott ended in victory for the farm workers in 1969.