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This Chicano Photographer Told Us Why Cesar Chavez Has Left A Lasting Impression With Latinos

José Salvador Sanchez

George Rodriguez has been a photographer documenting life in Los Angeles for decades. It was in 1969 when he was first assigned to go to Delano, Calif. as a freelance photojournalist for the Los Angeles Times. There he documented the Labor Movement and the Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Rodriguez sat down with mitú to talk about his time documenting and photographing Chavez, and what it meant to him to be close to that movement.

This is photographer George Rodriguez and he has been pivotal in capturing Chicano history in California.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

Rodriguez used to work for a magazine called West that was owned by the LA Times. One of his assignments in 1969 was to travel to Delano, Calif. to document the Labor Movement and the Farm Workers Union led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

“I was lucky that I was assigned to shoot [the movement],” Rodriguez told mitú.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

“I don’t know how long the grape boycott had been in effect but it had been going on,” Rodriguez, who is holding a picture of himself and Chavez above, continued. “I was just looking forward to that because you hear [about] people, they’re out there and the name I was hearing was Cesar Chavez and so you become a part of it.”

One of the memories Rodriguez has of Chavez is his reaction to meeting someone whose last name was Rodriguez and worked for the LA Times.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

“Eventually I got to meet Cesar and I remember our first conversation,” Rodriguez recalled to mitú. “He said something about being surprised that someone named Rodriguez would be coming from the LA Times.”

But it was Chavez’s true commitment to the cause the left an impression on Rodriguez.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

Rodriguez told mitú that he could tell that Chavez was never in the movement for himself. As Rodriguez recalls, he was pretty selfless with his time working with the union and the Labor Movement and was only concerned with the betterment of the people impacted by the benefits of the union’s work.

Even though Chavez was almost exclusively involved with the Labor Movement, Rodriguez does think that his fame in the Latino community came from a lack of leadership during the time.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

“He’s an idol,” Rodriguez told mitú about how Chavez is viewed by the Latino community. “I think it’s kind of tricky because, obviously, Cesar Chavez has got the most recognition, as he should. Be he didn’t necessarily only promote the Chicano Movement. He was head of working with the United Farm Workers and that’s what he did along with those other people up there. But, I think also that people attached to him because at that time there was such a lack of leadership.”

While Rodriguez was never part of the movement since he was there as a photojournalist, he has stayed in touch with the Chavez family all these years later.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

“I’ve kept in contact with the Chavez family and because of it I’ve met and people became my friends, like Dolores Huerta, who is connected to the movement,” Rodriguez told mitú. “Once you’re around a movement like the United Farm Workers movement, and you’re out there taking photos you realize who your heroes are.”

And, to this day, Rodriguez will tell you that Cesar Chavez is still at the top of his list of people who impacted his life.

José Salvador Sanchez
CREDIT: José Salvador Sanchez

“People ask you about who makes an impression and who do you remember and he would, I think, be on the head of the list for me because you just feel something, you know,” Rodriguez told mitú about the lasting legacy of Chavez. “There’s something going on. It’s like a movement and you’re there and you’re so fortunate that you’re there.”


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ICE Was Allegedly Trying To Deport A U.S. Citizen, And Now They're Being Sued

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ICE Was Allegedly Trying To Deport A U.S. Citizen, And Now They’re Being Sued

John Moore / Getty

Last month, a U.S. citizen named Rony Chávez Aguilar filed a lawsuit against ICE after being held in custody for three weeks while ICE prepared to deport him, reported Fusion.

Chávez Aguilar was born in Guatemala and came to the United States in 1991. His mother became a naturalized citizen in 1999 when he was 14 years old. Aguilar became a citizen in 2001.

Why did ICE detain Aguilar? According to The Daily Beast, ICE believed Aguilar was undocumented. Aguilar was arrested in Kentucky and pleaded guilty to drug charges. He served two weeks in county jail and should have been let go, but instead he was held for an extra two days at the request of the ICE office in Chicago, which covers Kentucky as part of their jurisdiction.

U.S. law prohibits ICE from detaining U.S. citizens, which is why Aguilar is now suing the agency for violating his rights.

“ICE Chicago did not obtain a judicial warrant to arrest Plaintiff; has not provided a sworn, particularized statement of probable cause; has not promptly brought him before a detached and neutral judicial officer for a probable cause hearing; or has not brought him before a judge to understand the charges against him and receive important advisals regarding his due process rights, amongst other procedural protections,” reads the complaint.

Aguilar tried to explain to ICE that they had no business detaining him, but they weren’t having it. “He said, ‘Hey, I’m a citizen,’” Charles Roth, Aguilar’s attorney, told the Daily Beast. According to the lawsuit, Aguilar was not “promptly” or at all brought before a judge to explain his situation.

According to Roth, Aguilar was released soon after the suit was filed on March 27. He and Aguilar are hoping to get class-action approval so that others who languish in detention for weeks can join the suit.

Read more about Aguilar’s situation here.

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