As we arrived late Tuesday afternoon in Lodi, the marchers' ranks grew with 75 to 80 people joining us, students and parents from the Joe Serna Jr. Charter Elementary School, named for Sacramento's beloved late mayor and farm worker champion. They were all singing "De Colores," the farm worker anthem going back to the 1960s. We marched into Hale Park, where more community people were waiting for us, including Maria Elena Serna, Joe's sister, and former UFW organizer Maurilio Urias. So many longtime supporters and their families turned out, serving us a great meal of enchiladas, rice and chile rellenos. Ramona and Juan Gonzalez helped organize the rally and the food, as they have for each farm worker march passing through Lodi dating back to 1994.
This morning we attended a 7:30 prayer service at Hale Park presided over by Deacon Porfirio Cervantes of St. Anne's Catholic Church in Lodi. Ending the service, he handed each marcher a special rosary hand-made by his mother before her passing. Also, this morning two or three people came up with donations for the march. While walking through a Lodi neighborhood, one Anglo woman, Becky Carey, told us she used to live in California 25 years ago and now resides in Oklahoma, where she works at the Fort Sill military base. She read about us in the Lodi Sentinel newspaper and asked if we took donations. She ran back to the house where she's staying, returned and handed us $60.
About 20 people from Pesticide Action Network joined us this morning along the highway. At mid-day in Acampo, between Lodi and Galt, we eld a news event where we joined the pesticide and health reform activists in calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to protect farm workers from the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide. Official memos just made public demonstrate how a political appointee of former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved use of the pesticide despite the recommendations of independent scientists brought together by the state who warned of its dangers since it is linked to cancer, thyroid disease, kidney problems and miscarriages. Eight months after taking office, Gov. Brown has not yet acted to halt use of the toxic soil fumigant.
Also joining the march around 4 p.m. as it enters Sacramento County on Liberty and Lower Sacramento roads will be a delegation of labor and political leaders. They include Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Mountain View), Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna (Joe Serna's son), Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza, Sacramento City Councilmember Kevin McCarty, West Sacramento City Councilmember Mark Johannessen, Sacramento Central Labor Council leader Bill Camp and leaders of the California Democratic Party, including Four Waters, Angelica Tellechea and one-time UFW attorney Carlos Alcala and his wife Norma who have been great supporters of our recent events in Sacramento.
Arturo S. Rodriguez, President
United Farm Workers of America