Articles, Blog

Gandhi’s Global Legacy – Keynote 2: Dolores Huerta

November 5, 2019

(bright music) – Good morning. – [All] Good morning. We had an amazing lecture by Reverend James Lawson, last evening. (audience applauding) And Reflections by Dr.
Mary Elizabeth King. It was quite an amazing
event and with students who came forward to ask amazing questions. So this morning we have
a full day of events, a lot of lectures, a lot
of talks, a workshop, and evening classical
Indian music concert. So, look at the program
and chart your day out. So, the students will be coming and going. So, speakers shouldn’t
think that, oh, my talk was not well received, a bunch
of people got up and left. No. Their classes, I told them
they can leave anytime, come anytime, because this is for them. I know this room is not well setup so we don’t have a middle aisle. So, I think just be, you know, kind to your neighbors, let them go by. Okay. So, this morning, I want to
start with Gandhi’s last words which are believed to be his last writing. It’s called his Talisman. And I’ve been reflecting on that and I think it will give
us to reflect on something as we go by today and beyond. “I will give you a talisman. “Whenever you are in doubt, “or when the self becomes
too much with you, “apply the following test. “Recall the face of the
poorest and weakest person “whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, “if the step you contemplate “is going to be of any use to them. “Will they gain anything by it? “Will it restore them to a control over “their own life and destiny? “In other words, will it
lead to swaraj, freedom, “for the hungry and
spiritually starving millions? “Then you will find your doubts
and your self melt away.” India had already attained
freedom that time. So it wasn’t, he was not
talking about political freedom. He was talking about justice, autonomy, that everyone can be able
to pursue their own dreams. So it’s very, very interesting. Just scribbled, that was
found, his last words in 1948. So, I would like to
welcome our guests again, once more, our scholars,
our keynote speakers. And today is almost like
a star studded event, I see see so many deans
and great campus leaders. I’m kind of nervous here. (chuckles) (audience laughing) You know, you see a few of them, sometime, now, there’s so many all together. So that’s great. Welcome all of you. This morning, President Castro
and Provost Jimenez-Sandoval, I’ll welcome you. And Provost Sandoval was our
Dean last year, (chuckles) so then he became a Provost. What a great luck for us. And he’s been part of this journey from the very inception of this idea of Gandhi’s Global Legacy. So he’s been a mentor, a friend,
a guide, a teacher to me, and I’m so grateful for his
guidance and mentorship. This morning our moderator
will be Dr. Andrew Fiala, who is the Director of Ethnic Center and Professor in the
Department of Philosophy. He will be in introducing Dolores Huerta and leading the question-answers and inviting Reverend
Lawson for Reflections. So, please do welcome our
Provost, Jimenez-Sandoval, to say a few words. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Veena, for that. I’d like to welcome you to
this amazing conference. It’s truly an honor to be here and it’s truly an honor
to be asked to speak. This conference is especially
important for Fresno State as we are one of the most diverse and multicultural institutions
of higher learning in California, and in all of
the United States, as well. Yeah, big applause for that.
(audience applauding) Our students and faculty
come from all backgrounds and all corners of the world. And it is especially
important that we promote here in this ground, at our University, Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence. Indeed Mahatma Gandhi’s
ideas of social concern and care for human dignity, are more relevant today more than ever. This celebration, therefore,
is especially important because it puts into practice
what Gandhi taught us. We come together, regardless
of our backgrounds, to unite in justice, in peace, and in the fight for human dignity. To see each other as fellow human beings, to celebrate each other’s uniqueness, and to memorialize a man who taught us that treating each other with respect and love is always spiritually
rewarding and fulfilling. I would like to thank Dr. Veena Howard for all the heart and soul
she invested in organizing Gandhi’s Global Legacy
International Conference at Fresno State. Thank you, Dr. Howard. (audience applauding) She mentioned before, I worked with her when I was Dean of Arts and Humanities, and I know how meaningful and
valuable this conference is in promoting Gandhi’s vision
of justice, human dignity, and respect all through the
powerful notion of nonviolence. And it’s Veena’s driving
force that’s really behind all of this. Deep gratitude to the JP
and Renu Sethi Foundation and the Uberoi Foundation
for Religious Studies. They generously made this event a reality. JP and Renu Sethi are present here. Are they here? They couldn’t come. All right. And their transformative
support creates palpable change in our Valley. Both JP and Renu Sethi
have made a commitment to fight violence against
women and are focused on restoring their
human worth and dignity. Their generous vision
also touches the lives of the most dispossessed, they
support homeless shelters. I have seen firsthand how their support and how they empower our gift to students through scholarships as well. Furthermore, they have
committed themselves to support education
about Gandhi’s philosophy and legacy at Fresno State. The legacy of Gandhi is clearly visible in their intentional deeds. Let’s give them a hand of applause. (audience applauding) We also have two board trustees of the Uberoi Foundation here. They’re not here either. They’re in the hotel. Getting recharged for the rest of the day. Got it. (chuckles) So, Mrs. Anu Bhatiaa, and Jyothi Bhatia, have come all the way from
India to support this project, and the Uberoi Foundation is renowned for it’s commendable work
in support of research on indig religious traditions. The Foundation has given a
generous grant for this project, and also has supported Dr.
Veena Howard’s research projects as well, so let’s give them
a hand of applause as well. (audience applauding) Let’s also give a really warm welcome to our dear Reverend James Lawson. (audience applauding) It’s such an honor to have him here. He’s like a lightning rod, right? He takes that lightning and
just gives it to all of us. His unique tactics of
nonviolence are exemplary. And through the power
of his mind and actions, those marginalized by
violence and injustice have seen a clear ray of hope and light. We are all thankful for the
road he constructed for us all. Thank you, Reverend Lawson. (audience applauding) Also honoring us with her
presence, is Dolores Huerta. She is the living embodiment
of Gandhi’s principles of dedication to service. She continues to fight for the
rights of the disenfranchised and fight for social justice. We are so fortunate to have her here. A living legend. (audience applauding) And finally, I’d like to
welcome all the scholars who have traveled great
distances from different states and countries, who are here from Virginia, Georgia, Detroit, North Carolina,
Kansas, Oregon, Florida, Oxford, Kerala, India, and
different parts of California. It’s truly impressive. It’s a truly impressive list. We hope you enjoy our University, and this beautiful weather we have. It’s perfect fall weather
(chuckles) and are glad to have you celebrate Gandhi’s
legacy with us here as well. And now it’s my true honor to welcome, President Joseph Castro,
whose vision of excellence, compassion, and celebration
of our diverse backgrounds has made Fresno State, a model University. Please welcome Dr. Castro. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Provost Jimenez-Sandoval. Good morning, everybody. – [All] Good morning. – I want to welcome all of you here today, and join our Provost in welcoming you. Reverend Lawson, welcome back. I still remember our lunch
together not long ago. And welcome back to Delores,
it’s always an honor to have you on campus. And you’re both always
welcome, and all of you, I’m really happy that you’re all here for this very important
international conference that our Professor Howard initiated. Thank you so much, Veena,
for your leadership. Well I hope that you’ve had
a little bit of a chance to see our campus. And just outside the doors here, is the only Armenian Genocide
monument at a University, I believe, in the whole United States. And if you have a chance to
visit, I hope that you will. It was probably one of
the most powerful moments of my Presidency when we opened
that particular monument. We had broken ground on
it one Sunday afternoon and we put a hundred chairs out. We thought maybe a
hundred people would come for that groundbreaking
and a thousand people came. So when we did the official opening, we finished the memorial, the monument, just hours before we did
the official opening, we had a thousand chairs out
and five thousand people came. (audience laughing) And the whole Maple Mall was full and it was an incredible moment for our entire campus and community. So, I hope that you have a chance to visit our Armenian Genocide monument. I also hope you have a chance
to visit our Peace Garden next to the library where
you will see Gandhi’s statue in honor of his legacy of
nonviolent civil disobedience, which has inspired civil rights
movements around the world. And from my own office balcony, I can see the Peace Garden each day and it’s an inspiration for me because not only is Gandhi there but there are statues of
Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Jane Addams. And in fact, the baby
that Martin Luther King is holding in his monument
would have basically been me. That would have been my age at the time and I’m a child of the Great Society and grandson of farm workers
here in the Central Valley. And in fact, our Provost,
as well, has those roots. It’s the first time in Fresno
State’s 108-year history where we’ve had two Central Valley and Latino leaders for this University. (audience applauding) I should say we did a national search for the Provost position with
so many distinguish scholars who applied and who were considered, but in the end we had our
Provost right here at home and our dean of College
of Arts and Humanities, and I couldn’t be
happier to work with him. We’ve been making a
lot of progress already in just his first few weeks on the job. In terms of the Peace Garden itself, I also want to share with
you that we have plans to add a Nelson Mandela statue and for those of you who
would like to get involved in that effort, we would sure welcome your involvement and your support but that’s a high priority for our campus. And Dr. Kapoor is over here, my friend, who inspired the entire Peace Garden and he is working with
me and so many others to have Nelson Mandela added. Good morning, Dr. Kapoor, thank you so much for your leadership. (audience applauding) Even the thousands of
miles away from India, where Gandhi lived, our region,
our Valley has continued the legacy of Gandhi’s
teachings of nonviolence, with our visionary
leaders from Cesar Chavez to Dolores Huerta, and many others. And Cesar Chavez remarked, and I quote, “I am convinced that the
truest act of courage, “the strongest act of humanity “is to sacrifice ourselves for others “in a totally nonviolent
struggle for justice.” Unquote. I think Fresno State is an ideal place for this conference because what we’re talking
about here is fully consistent with the values that we
have here at Fresno State. Our mission is to boldly
educate and empower students for success and our three values are diversity, distinction, and discovery. And underpinning that, are values of diversity,
respect, and equality. There is a President’s Commission on Human Relations and Equity that works very hard with
me and with our cabinet in the entire campus, Dr.
Howard’s a member of that, and I see other members of
that commission here today, but it’s dedicated to
the mission of supporting acceptance and fairness at
all levels of the University. And whether it is in our
hiring, or in our programs, it’s consistent across our University. And I’m actually very proud of the fact that our President’s Cabinet reflects the diversity of our Central Valley. Fresno State in is an institution, we’re exploring the diversity of thought and discouraging marginalization is valued as a means
of enriching knowledge and critical thinking. And diversity is one of
Fresno State’s top values. A pride point for
celebrating the differences and commonalities of our
students and the region, which together build
opportunity and success. And just last month, our commitment to diversity and inclusion, earned on university its sixth consecutive Higher Education Excellence
in Diversity award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. And I want to thank all my
colleagues for their hard work (audience applauding)
on that. And there are not many
Universities across the country that have earned that distinction and I’m particularly proud of our campus for doing it six consecutive years and we continue to expand our programs, and our support for diversity
all across the campus. I believe that through our collective and intentional efforts, diversity creates a welcoming environment where
everyone feels connected to our mission, and everyone thrives. And as President here, that’s
the ultimate goal, for me, is that everyone will thrive. Our students, our faculty,
our staff, our administration, our 230 thousand alumni,
and our many, many friends. So, I count, those of
you who are visiting here from other places as our
friends and I welcome you to campus and I hope that you’ll
continue to visit us often, and I hope that you have a
very enjoyable conference. Thank you so much. (audience applauding) – Okay, good morning. It’s my privilege to
introduce, Dolores Huerta. And I got a note about a
housekeeping issue before we do so, which is that, due to wildfires, there are some closures in
Southern California freeways. So, if any of you are heading back check CalTrans before you go. Apparently 405 and five, we– – [Veena] Stay extra day. – (laughs) Or stay with us an extra day. (audience laughing)
So, our hearts go out to those people in Southern
California and the wildfires. Okay, so, I’m gonna do some introduction and then Delores, it’s time for you. Okay, so Dolores Huerta
is Founder and President of the Dolores Huerta foundation. She co-founded the United
Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez. She’s a labor leader
and community organizer, she’s worked for civil
rights and social justice for over 50 years. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers and she has served as Vice President and played a critical role in many of the Unions accomplishments
for four decades. In 2002, she received the Puffin Nation 100 thousand dollar prize
for creative citizenship, which she used to establish
the Dolores Huerta Foundation. She’s received numerous
awards, among them, the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton
in 1998, and in 2012, President Obama bestowed Dolores Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor
in the United States. Thank you for joining us. (audience applauding) (microphone rustling) – Gracias. Thank you. Thank you very much. I am so happy to be here. And I just want to say, I
want to thank Dr. Castro, for having the celebration of Gandhi’s 150th birthday, and I want to thank Dr. Kapoor, because Dr. Kapoor, as many of you know, was just all over
California saying to people, we have to celebrate
Gandhi’s 150th birthday. So, Dr. Kapoor, I’m glad
y’all made it happen. I’m so happy to be here. As you all know, nonviolence
was a central part of the United Farm Workers. Before we started the
union, Cesar and I sat down and we made plans about how
we were gonna start the Union. You know, people think that
Cesar walked into a field and all of a sudden
everybody was organized. (audience laughing)
Well it doesn’t work like that. It actually took a lot of
planning and even before we had our first meeting, first house meeting with Farm Workers, Cesar and I sat down, how we wanted this
organization to look like. And it was based on Gandhi. It had to be based on Gandhi’s principles. Principles of nonviolence,
the principles of sharing, the principles of volunteerism, you know, that everybody would work. And Cesar’s dream was to
have ashrams everywhere. And, of course, La Paz,
which is now the headquarters of the United Farm Workers,
that was the dream there. And it actually happened. And when we think about how
the United Farm Workers, this incredible organization, where we had hundreds of people working for the organization for no money, that they were all volunteers. And everything that everybody earned, all the money that people gathered, went to the organization
to be able to spread the organization to build,
make the organization stronger and build, you know, get more
people out there to join. It was all on the principles of Gandhi. It’s not like that anymore, I have to say. You know, when when Cesar passed away, that part of his dream went with him. But the fact that even existed, I think, and hopefully something
could be recreated. But I also think that
having the celebration here in Fresno is also very symbolic, and here in the San Joaquin Valley, because when we look at this area. Number one, I guess it
just came out in the news this week that Fresno is,
you have regained the title of the number one County
for Agriculture, right? Number one, in the whole
United States of America. (audience applauding)
Fresno is number one. But at the same time, we
have other number ones, which are not very good,
and some of them, of course, are not Fresno but the
whole San Joaquin Valley. And one of them is poverty. Number one in poverty. Of course, I’m from Kern
County, which is Bakersfield, and we’re number one in oil. Okay. So, we’re number one. And the other thing is
that we’re also number one in pollution in the San Joaquin Valley and incarcerations. The San Joaquin Valley. From starting from Arvin,
California to Sacramento, we have 22 prisons that
have been built since 1965. 22 prisons and one University, the University of Merced,
the University of Merced. So, I think when we put this all together, we can see that we are living
in a culture of violence. The culture of violence. And that is what I think,
really makes it more important that we really make the culture
of nonviolence of Ahimsa, you know, Gandhi’s lessons have to be. We have to, kind of, make
sure that we are able to spread these messages,
because this is not a living solution for everybody, you know? This is something that
we have to really counter and the only way we can do that, we know, is by organizing. And I’m gonna just start with
the whole issue of the food. You know, I was. I don’t buy the Wall Street Journal but sometimes they give it away
free, so I take it. (laughs) (audience laughing) And there was an article
in there about, you know, Bayer who bought Monsanto,
you know, Monsanto, which is the corporation
that created this RoundUp and this is one of the
pesticides that they have used on golf courses and, of course,
in our agricultural fields, and we know that it is very, that it has got poison in it that really, not only hurts the plants,
but also hurts people. But it was interesting because the people of Monsanto’s
then bought by Bayer, say, well, we know that
there’s a lot of lawsuits about people that have been
poisoned, that have cancer, that have Hodgkin’s disease, but we’re making so much money on this that we gotta continue to produce it. We’re making so much money that we’ve gotta continue to produce this. I mean what does it say
about our culture of violence in our United States of America. That you know you’re producing something that is hurting people and killing people, but okay, as long as you’re
making money on it, it’s okay. The whole thing with the incarcerations. As long they’re making money
by private prisons and, you know, we’re making money
on incarcerating people, it’s okay, let’s keep on doing it. And I think this whole idea that we have a profit-driven society,
that it’s okay to hurt people as long as we can make money off of it. Somehow this has got to change. We’ve got to start challenging that. And if this is what, I guess
I’ll use the word capitalism, if this is what it is, then
there’s something wrong with the system. And I remember somebody
said the other day, you know, they say, oh
the system is broken. No, it’s not broken, it’s working.
(audience laughing) The system is actually working. So, that means that
there’s something wrong with the system that we have to change. And we know the only
way that we can do that is from the bottom up. Starting with people. And when they talk about the
S-word, socialism, (chuckles) that everybody’s afraid
of that word, social, what does that mean? What does that mean? Does that mean, and it should mean, that the resources of the
world belong to everybody, not just for the greedy few. That we need to share the
resources of the world so that we do not have
these economic inequities where you have the 1%
that has 50% of the wealth and the 10% of corporations
and wealthy families that have 90% of the
wealth in our country. This is totally, totally wrong, and it’s got to be addressed. And we shouldn’t be afraid to address it. It was interesting. We’ve all heard in the news that the power is being
shut down in many parts of California because of PG&E, you know, they gotta make sure
there’s no more fires. And then I start thinking about that. PG&E, how is it that a
public utility can be owned by investors? Hey, there’s something
wrong with that picture. There is something
wrong with that picture, that you could have a public utility that is owned by investors. Public utilities need to
be owned by the people. – [Man] That’s right, yeah! – Need to be owned by the people and we hear these arguments
about government control, the one thing though,
we have something that is owned by a government,
there is accountability. If you have something that
is owned by a corporation, how could you make them accountable, maybe through a boycott
of something or the other? But there’s not only, you
can make them lose money, because, I like to say, their hearts are in their wallets, right? Yeah, so we have to think about that. How can we make corporations accountable? Or make, or some of these
things the corporations do, actually make them come,
make them be controlled by the people and run by the people. And I think this is one
of Gandhi’s sayings also. And I may not say this exactly
correctly, but Gandhi said, you know, you will always
have enough resources to fill the need. We will never have enough
resources to fill the greed. We will never have the
resources to fill the greed. So, we’ve got to think of
ways that we can, kind of, incorporate Gandhi’s sayings, you know, put them as part of our educational system so that every single person
that is really educated can really understand what that means about caring for other
people, about again, sharing the resources of our country. The other saying, of
course, and we think of all of the people that come out
of these great universities, like, Yale and Harvard,
and you would think, well these are people that
are, quote-unquote, educated, and that they would
really care about people, care about the earth. And that was the other
thing that Gandhi said, knowledge without wisdom. Knowledge without wisdom. And it kind of makes you think sometimes, that so many of these
educated people, supposedly, that come out of these universities, that they are the ones
that are also involved in creating wars, you know, and in creating more greed in our society, and not really using their,
the high priced so-called, education to really think about
about helping other people. So, you know, these are the things that we have to challenge. And I have been speaking
a lot about racism ’cause we know that racism in
our society, has really led to a lot of violence. More recently, where we
see that people are killed because they’re Mexicans,
that people are killed because they’re Jews,
because they’re Muslims, or because they’re African Americans. So we have to start addressing this, and I believe there is
an easy way to do this and that is in our educational
system that we have in the United States of America. And starting with Pre-K, Pre-Kindergarten, and educating all of our children, that we are one human race. One human race. (audience applauding) And children, get this, you know, when I speak about this to kindergarteners and third graders it’s really interesting, and what I say to them, you
know, we are all one human race. And our human race started in Africa. Africa. So, what does that mean? You know, we have a lot
of different, I think, ethnic groups, we have a
lot of different cultures, a lot of different nationalities, but we all came from Africa. And that means that we are all Africans of different shades and colors. (audience applauding)
When I say that to children, I say to them, that we are all related, and you what the children do? And I’ve seen this happen
at three different schools, the kids actually get up
and start running towards each other and embracing each other. I mean, children get it. So, but we have to say to that, you know, say that you don’t get that
into just remind people that we are one human race. And I’d like to say, that means we’re all
related to Obama, okay? (audience laughing) That we’re all related
to the Kennedy’s, okay? Yeah, and I have actually
asked them to hold hands, I say, you know, with the
person that’s sitting next to you, just hold their hand. Just hold their hand. And as our Native American
brothers the sisters like to say, say to the person next to
you, say, hello, relative. (laughing)
– [All] Hello, relative. – So, I think that
that’s a really good way to get that across, you know? Really good way to get that across. I do, thank you. (audience applauding and cheering) Then I think we also have
to remind people, again, when we talk about our Country. You know, when they
talk about our Country, there’s a difference between
our Country and our government. You know, when we talk about the founders, they were not the founders of the Country, their founders of our government, because when they came here,the
founders of the government, the country was already here and the country was already brown. (audience laughing and applauding) And I like to say that people, you know, Google a map of the United
States, before 1847. Google it. And you will get a shock
when you see that a third of the United States was part of Mexico. And so what they tell us to
go back where we came from, we all say, uh-uh, we are
where we came from. (laughs) (audience laughing) We are, we provide here. So, you know, we like to say, we didn’t cross the border,
the border crossed us. Okay. We were here before the border. (audience applauding and cheering) So, we know that we have
a lot of work to do. And I think that what
I’m talking about during our educational, putting this
into our educational system, well, this can actually happen. How do we do that? We have to take over our
school boards, to begin with. You know, we have to make
sure that the ethnic studies that is trying to be passed
right now in the State Legion, that the actually pass that, so that really people can learn. I think one of the good things
about the San Joaquin Valley and we can see it here, in this room here, is our diversity, as our diversity. We are so fortunate that
in the San Joaquin Valley because of so many immigrants
have came here to work, mostly in the farms, that we
were lucky enough to grow up with a lot of diversity, a
lot of different cultures, unlike our president who
never had that privilege. He never had that
privilege, unfortunately. And he never knew how to work, that was another sad
thing about our president. (audience laughing) He never know how to work
because he was born wealthy. So, I think in those circumstances
we are very, very lucky. Oh, one of the good thing
about the San Joaquin Valley. I actually grew up in
Stockton, California, and we had the first Hindu Temple there in Stockton, California,
(audience applauding) in the United States of America. In the United States of America. Okay, so how do we go
from, you know, get there, we need to get there. Of course, trying to bring this, all of these lessons that
we learn on nonviolence from Gandhi, you know,
from Reverend Lawson, and from Dr. Martin Luther
King, from Cesar Chavez, bring them into our school systems. And then when we talk
about our government, what do we do there? And here I’m going to
quote Coretta Scott King. Coretta Scott King said, “we will never have peace in the world “until women take power.” (chuckles) (audience cheering and applauding) But, I’m going to amend her statement, and I’m going to say, we will
never have peace in the world until feminists take power, okay? (audience cheering and applauding) So, what is a feminist
and who is a feminist? Somebody who cares about immigrant rights, who cares about worker rights, who cares about LGBT
human rights, you know, who cares about our planet, you know, to make sure on this global warming, it’s somebody, and of course,
women’s reproductive rights. That is what a feminist is. And so, the men in the room
here are also feminists, okay, so let’s give them all
a round of applause also. (audience applauding)
To make this happen. But we know that in order to get there, that we really have to
get rid of the apathy that we have in our society. And Helen Keller said,
that the greatest disease that exists in human beings,
that scientists have not been able to cure, is apathy. Because we know that if every
person would get engaged and get involved, that,
then we wouldn’t have the situation that we’re in now. That people don’t realize
that they have an obligation, and as Robert Kennedy said, before he was, just before he was killed, he said, we have an obligation, we have obligations and responsibilities to our fellow citizens. And so I think we all have
to really take that seriously and really try to organize other people that we know that are not involved. And so many people because of
the oppression that we have in our society, they feel that
they really can’t contribute, that somehow this is not for them. There’s other people that do that work. And they’re busy with their
lives, their work lives, their family lives, their school lives, and they don’t feel that
they have a necessity to get involved. Well, this is what we
have to do as organizers and this is what Gandhi did. Everything that Gandhi did, and you know, Cesar, he
read everything he could about Gandhi, everything,
his whole library was just about Gandhi. And I said, Cesar, why are you
reading so much about Gandhi? And he said, I just wanna know
how he organized the people. Okay. How did he get them to be
able to do the marches, and of course, Cesar
also did the same thing with the farm workers, you know, making poor people
understand that they had the power to make changes, to
make changes for themselves. And this is what we try
to do with my foundation, organize people in their communities so that they can take the power and we always quote Reverend Lawson. Reverend Lawson says, how do we dismantle the systems of oppression? How do we dismantle the
systems of oppression? And this is what we’re trying
to do, Reverend Lawson, following your words. Trying to dismantle those
systems of oppression. You know, I’m gonna
quote our local Sheriff in Kern County and it’s come
out in the Los Angeles Times, I don’t know about the
Fresno Bee over here, but he said that the way to
end the homeless problem, it’s really easy. He’s gonna arrest ’em all. He’s gonna put them all in jail. This is his solution. These are the things
that we’re up against, the things that we’re fighting. So, you know, we’ve got to
take over our, all communities, you know take over our school boards, take over our city council, take over our boards of supervisors, to make sure that the San Joaquin Valley, that we do not have to be
number one in all the negatives, but we can be number one
in all of the promises. You know, to make sure that the wealth, the incredible wealth
of this Valley is shared by the people that create the wealth. And I want to say just a simple word about the refugees on the border. And this is another thing. When we think of our foreign
policies, and I like to use the word bananas. How many bananas do we eat every day in our United States of America? Do the people of
Guatemala get the bananas? No, Dole banana, Chiquita banana, American banana Corporations
get the money that we spend on bananas so the people
in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, those places
where the bananas come from, they never get the money. We’ve gotta change that. But the only way we can change it, is we gotta start with
the bottom up to make sure that we can make it happen. And I think, when we think of Gandhi, we think of the sacrifices that he made, that the people in India made. When we think of the Farm
Worker Movement, you know, we had five people that were killed, in the Farm Worker Movement. So the farm workers could
get bathrooms in the field, you know, get direct organized, get cold drinking water,
get rest periods, you know, that people had to be
killed to make that happen. Well, I think that, when we
think of those sacrifices that so many people
made, then we can think of the commitments that we have to make. And I just want to say to everybody, that, let’s all become organizers, let’s spread the lessons
of Gandhi and of Cesar. And many of you know that I
recently got arrested here with the home care workers. (audience laughing and applauding) And people say, well,
why did you get arrested? Well I hadn’t planned to get arrested. (audience laughing) But when I saw the violence
against one of the head of the Union, Arnulfo De La
Cruz, a young man that I knew since he was a little kid, he was a terror when he was a kid, but he ended up being a
Fulbright Scholar, woo, and the head of the Union, but that this deputy
sheriff came up behind him and started choking him. And I’m glad that I wasn’t close by there because then I would have
grabbed his arm or something, then I would have been
arrested for something else, for assaulting an officer or something. But when I saw that it
just made me so angry. So, I said, I’ve gotta protest. You know, I’ve gotta get up
there and get arrested too with the rest of the workers. And one of the, some of you may know, Reverend Bill O’Donnell
from Oakland, California, he was a Catholic priest there, he went to jail about 200 times. And he said, everybody should go to jail at least once in their life. Because when we go to jail,
but we see who’s in jail, it’s all the poor people,
people that have no defense, people that shouldn’t even
be there, many of them. And, you know, so this is
something again, that I think, when we think of Gandhi and
the sacrifices that he made, and other leaders made. So let’s all just make our
commitment that we’re going to spread the word of nonviolence, that we’re going to live
that, we’re gonna erase the culture violence that
we have in our society. And I think that we can do it. And so, I’m gonna ask you
a really simple question and I know you know the answer. And the question I will ask you is, who’s got the power? Okay? Because when we were
organizing and people would say to Caesar and myself, how are you gonna get the farm workers to be able to organize? They’re so poor, no money, not citizens, they don’t speak the English language. How can you possibly organize them? And we said, it’s simple,
we just tell people the power is in your person. And this is all the power that we need. The power is in our person. But we know we can’t do it alone, that we’ve gotta come
together to make it happen, and of course, the workers did. And we can do the same thing, okay? So, I’m going to ask you the question, I’m gonna see who’s got the power? And I want you to say,
we’ve got the power. And when I say, what kind of power? I want you, excuse me, ahem. I want you to say, people power. Can we do that? – [All] Yes! – Okay, but I like to say to
people, let’s shout it so loud. Shout it so loud that the Neo-Nazi’s can hear us, okay? (laughs) (audience laughing) The misogynists, you know, the ones that want to
dominate women, okay? All of those, the homophobes up there,
the people are anti-gay, all those climate deniers, okay? So, that they can hear us. So, okay, the question
is, who’s got the power? You’re gonna say, we’ve got the power. What kind of power? People Power.
Let’s go. Who’s got the power? – [All] We got the power! – Okay, some people aren’t sure. (audience laughing) I think we can do better than that. Let’s go one more time. Who’s got the power? – [All] We got the power! – What kind of power? – [All] People power! – Okay, are we gonna
go out there, organize, spread the culture of nonviolence. What do we say? Se puede or no se puede? – [All] Si se puede! – That means, yes we can. In case you didn’t know. Okay, let’s do it all together
with an organized hand clap. All together, let’s go. Si se puede!
(clapping) – [All] Si se puede! (audience chanting) – Muchas gracias, thank you very much. So much, I thank you. (audience applauding) – Reverend Lawson, you know,
we’d like to invite you to come up front, Reverend Lawson, if you’d like to make a couple
of comments and remarks. Delores, would you like
to sit at the table with Reverend Lawson? We can have a conversation
between the two of you. And I know we’re a little
bit behind schedule but I think we should let
this one happen a little bit. I hope our future speakers are okay with that.
(audience applauding) Thank you very much. So, Reverend Lawson, we’d
love to hear your thoughts and remarks, and then we’ll give you guys about 15 minutes. Speakers, are you, is
everyone okay with that? The rest of folks on the panel
the rest of the day here? We don’t wanna cut into
other people’s time but we have two icons with us. So, we’re happy to hear your conversation. (clanking) – I think that one of the
most hurtful statements that have been made too often over the last. (microphone rustling) – [Andrew] Here. – Oh, okay. – Here, let’s turn that on. – Oh, okay.
– There we go. – Yeah, all right. I think that over the last couple
of months, especially, or three months or more, one of the worst pieces of analysts about our situation has been made by. – [All] Terrible microphone. – Okay. Am I better yet? – [All] Yeah. – Seven, okay, I’ll hang in close. Over the last several months, one of the most destructive things said in public conversation is the only Democratic candidate
running for President, who can beat Donald Trump is Joe Biden. Now, I have nothing against Joe Biden. But for a political party in a nation of 330 million people to say that the worst President the nation has ever had can
only be defeated by one man, one person, is the kind of analysis that is self destructive of our democracy. And so, I want that put on the table this morning very quickly. That one of the millions
of competent human beings in our nation, that we
have, is Delores Huerta. (audience applauding)
(Delores laughing) Who is a better President
than the one we have. Because, among other things,
she has always been a person that has sought to through
observation and through heart and mind and spirit, understand people, and care about people, and care about equality, and justice, care about using the powers that we have in order to build the society
that one group of people in the United States back at the, in 1899, the so-called, the beloved
community, where every child, every human being has access, and is allowed to expose their living to an environment, an
ecosystem, spiritual, moral, intellectual, that
allows them to seize hold of the life that they have
and to use it well across their own years. So, I want to lift that up as
the first thing I wanna say. And then the second
reflection I would like to lift up is her emphasis upon power and the emphasis upon the
fact that every human being has power, and that every human being, learning to use that power, in a fashion that ennobles their own living, lifts their own understanding of life, and therefore is transmitted
to other people around them. Their intimate and their extended family is a part of the beginning
of nonviolent struggle, in my mind, and part
of the first laboratory for practicing nonviolent struggle. It does not end there because what Gandhi launched in South Africa, 1906, especially, and onward until he left was to give an alternative
way of organizing to dismantle injustice. In the case of Gandhi,
dismantle a little bit of the colonialism of his day, a little bit of the Imperial theology, the Imperial world, of
his day, in South Africa, something of the racism,
something of the sexism, and the like. But what Gandhi launched,
even more than that, is the fact that in the 20th century, in every decade of the 20th century, there were struggles around the world that essentially used nonviolent tactics and methodologies and philosophies. So that I maintain that one
of the most important books that was written in the 20th
century for our purposes is the book A Force More Powerful by Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall. Now, in the 60’s we had no How To books, you have to understand that. There was not that much
on nonviolent methodology at all written, that I know of. We had many discussions
in pacifist movements, pacifist circles, rather, in university, as well as in the community. We had many conversations about
the Gandhian methodologies that had been used in various places in India and South Africa, in particular. The book A Force More Powerful, describes, not only the Indian campaign, but also describes the national campaign, the campaign in the United States, also describes the Polish
Solidarity Movement in a single chapter, also describes the Velvet
Revolution in a single chapter, also describes what
happened in South Africa at the end of the century that saw the release of
Nelson Mandela from prison. And therefore, after 27 years of prison, allowed him to come out of prison as the leader of the movement
for a new constitution and to begin the process
of trying to understand how we create a new South Africa. Astonishing switch of rules
but an astonishing exchange of power, and that was largely done by a nonviolent movement. In that case, it was the boycott by ordinary Africans in Port Elizabeth, in the East side of South Africa, where they boycotted white
business in their own city, because they wanted to
inform white business people who were, most cases,
settlers in South Africa, that you have a stake in the
future and in our society. So they boycotted white
business in order to demand that white business
leadership get involved in the negotiations with the society that would help to effect change. If you have not seen that
book, or used that book in classes, it is a fundamental
book that ought to be used. Because it’s exactly, and in a very well, excellently researched way, shows in both the critique
of nonviolence struggles but then also the wonder
of nonviolent struggle and beginning the transformation of a large part of our
globe in the 20th century. And so, I’m gonna conclude by saying, that not only as Delores Huerta brought us a practical, experiential, conversation on nonviolent
philosophy embedded in the work that we have done for
many years in our country, I want to say that if you study these movements
in the United States, you would see a far
greater variety of tactics that are used. The nonviolence struggle
must be a lifelong struggle and must be an informed struggle. And so the second book
I want to commend is the three little volumes by Gene Sharp, who died just about a year ago. Gene and I were in college
together in Ohio back in the 40’s, he was Ohio State, I was in at Baldwin Wallace
College up near Cleveland, Ohio State down in Columbus, Ohio. But we met as students and
we were keenly interested in, at that time, in pacifism
but especially we were, we talked often about Gandhi
and the Indian movement of the exchange of power
from the British Empire to the people of India. The biggest task that we have today is not among nations, or between nations. USA continues to make different nations and peoples
our enemies for the day or our enemies for tomorrow. That will end in vast disaster if we are not allowed to change it. We must have in the United States the prolonged nonviolent
struggle, in which in hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of communities, the systematic effort
to exercise, compassion, and truth, and love as the powers, that not only transform inwardly, but as the power that can
shake the foundations of oppression and fear. The Gene Sharp book I want to mention is The Politics of Nonviolent Action. It’s available still in paperback. Gene Sharp did some 25
or 40 years of study, and that book reflects his discovery of nonviolent tactics across four thousand years
of written human history. Not something that had just
emerged in the 20th century but wherein, maybe intuitively,
but maybe also spiritually, our fore parents, great numbers of them, decided that they did not have to hate to make a change in their
community, or in their own status. They did not have to despise
people but that the love that they learned as
babies from their parents and grandparents, that the
compassion they discovered in accepting themselves,
and loving themselves, did represent the power that
can transform the society in which we live. Gene Sharp lists 194 tactics, methods, used by the human race across the centuries. He and I had a conversation
a few years ago, in which we were talking about this and we both agreed, that probably, there were at least 210 tactics and methodologies
that have been used. His book does, and for an example, include the story of the 154th
Regiment of Massachusetts that was organized for black
soldiers with white officers that fought in the Civil War. The black men, both slaves and ex-slaves, who joined that Regiment,
which was one of the first, were promised so much money per month by the Washington government
for being in the Army and for helping to fight the war. The first month of their paychecks, the amount of money they had
been promised was reduced and as the first men
received their pay envelopes, they saw that it was reduced. And a cry began to move
across the whole group in the lines for pay and some said, well they have not fulfilled their promise of what we want, or what
they said they would give. So, a conversation swept the across the whole Regiment, they decided not to accept
the pay envelopes that month until the Army fulfilled
it’s promise in the future. That’s one that could be
added to Gene Sharp’s book. I don’t know what you would call it. But the point I’m making is that if we’re convinced of the efficacy and the power of what Gandhi introduced and collated under
the rubrics, nonviolence, soul force, satyagraha. If we’re convinced that that power is out of the 20th century, what we human beings need most, then add to that this book by Gene Sharp, that analyzes both the
dynamic of nonviolence and also then lists the many
methods that people have used. The first civil disobedience
act, as far as I know, is to be found in the first
chapter of the Book of Exodus, in the Hebrew Bible. Pharaoh, tells midwives, you must see to it that every male baby is birthed a stillborn. And two midwives who are named there in that first chapter
of that book, refused. They did not, a nuance of it, they did not go back to Pharaoh
and say, we will not do it. Resistance does not require always boldness and in
some situations you cannot, and you dare not be bold, you
will be smashed instantly. So, if you’re interested in resistance that builds resistance, many times, you have to find a securitist
way of doing the resistance. (thudding)
So, the Gene Sharp book, 194 plus instances where
ordinary people like ourselves, maybe some extraordinarily intelligent. Very often without the
information that we have today of ourselves and our histories, exercise a human spirit that knew it was powerful and that it was in sync with the universe and in sync with life itself. You don’t need to call that, God. I call that, God. You don’t need to call it, God. But we need to also
understand nevertheless, it is a gift of life itself. And it is a gift, so powerful, that when we begin to tap
it and use it, personally, daily, and use it in all of our
kinship’s and relationships, and use it in organizing our
unions, our congregations, our social fraternities,
our business organizations, where we use it in all
these ordinary places where we live, and work, and play, we will be astounded by the
power that it unleashes. Because Gandhi recognized, as did Martin Luther King Jr., and a host of unknown people, recognized that there is a
power be tapped in life itself. (audience applauding) I’m sorry. I took more time than necessary. (audience laughing)
– No, that was– – [Andrew] You’re making me nervous but everybody else is fine. – No.
(audience laughing) Thank you for sharing your
incredible knowledge with us and inspiration, Reverend Lawson. I just want to add one thing. Maybe two things, okay. One of them is that, and I want to quote Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr on this one, as we talk to people, and we try to, try to change their
minds about these issues. We talk about racism–
– Mm-hm. – Sexism, misogyny, homophobia, et cetera, and I think Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. said, that remember that racism is a sickness. So, these folks are sick. They may be ignorant and
they may also just be sick. And so, we have to think
ourselves as healers. And so, when we talk to them, and these are difficult conversations, that often we want to avoid. But even Gandhi said,
that sometimes you have to have conflict, you know,
to be able to change things. So we should not be hesitant to bring up the difficult conversations, okay? Remembering that we’re
trying to heal people. And then at the same time,
when we are the victims of the misogyny or the racism, that again, try not to answer with anger, which is the first reaction that we get. When, especially women, people of color, not to respond with anger, but remember they were trying
to heal the other person and remember, again, this
is what we really invoke the nonviolence in
ourselves, in our persons, as we try to heal other people. And then, again, we think
at the national level, we think of, again, why do we
have to elect good leaders, which is what Reverend
Lawson started out with, is we have to think of the amount of money of our tax dollars that go
to the Defense Department, compared to what goes to
Health and Human Services, and when it goes, we actually
give to education, you know? So, we have to change
that balance, you know? We have to make a balance
that is not there right now. So that’s gotta be part of our, of the work that we have to do. But we talk about doing
the work of nonviolence. Thank you. (audience applauding)

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