MILWAUKEE — I am always amazed when ordinary people do extraordinary things. Cesar Chávez was an ordinary man who saw the horrific conditions of migrant workers and decided to do something about it. He organized a grape strike which started in California, working with labor unions.
I met with Jesus Salas, another ordinary man, a migrant worker working in the same conditions in the Milwaukee area. Hearing about the work that Chávez was doing, Jesus made a call to Cesar Chavez back in 1968, which resulted in Cesar Chávez coming to Milwaukee.
“I didn’t know Cesar Chávez from Adam," says Jesus, “but at that time you could make a (operated-assisted) person-to-person call, and they found him," he said.
“If they hadn't found him, I wouldn't have had to pay," chuckled Jesus.
It was a risk worth taking. In 1967, Chávez visited Milwaukee to meet with Jesus and the Wisconsin's migrant farm workers union to discuss disagreements between growers and farm workers. And the rest is history. The history we celebrate today.
Flores Hall, home of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, Inc. and Mexican Fiesta, has an exhibit showing the work of Cesar Chávez. The exhibit runs through April 8th, 2022.
Flores Hall is located at 2997 S. 20th St. in Milwaukee. Head to their website to learn more.