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Cesar Chavez, Larry Itliong and Immigrant Labor Essays

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When you try to describe Californians today, a common term that would probably appear more often than not, is diverse. California truly is a melting pot of different cultures that span the globe, from the Chinese and other Asian immigrants trying to attain the “golden mountain” to the Chicano community that was absorbed into American culture after the Mexican government ceded control of what is now, the Western United States. A common link between the past and present in California is the hard working immigrant laborer that put up with the harsh working conditions and got down and dirty to make a living. Weber recalls many money-hungry “entrepreneurs and capitalists that were happy to exploit the Chinese immigrants’ labor” (Weber, pg. 77) and how in the beginning, were accepted as a strong workforce that can be counted on to do jobs that whites, such as the Irish, were unwilling to do, and at a much lower cost. In reality, many of the Chinese were discontent with the conditions of the labor they were doing in the late 19th century, and as Weber mentions, went on strike and successfully got working conditions improved, albeit, with no increase in wages. A motivation for a betterment of the workforce was a state of mind that carried on from immigrant laborers in the late 19th century to those in the late 20th century, championed by labor leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong. Like Chinese workers during the “Gold Rush” of the 19th century, Californians came together as a united force to challenge the law for labor equality and usher in a new age that strived for a fair shot at the American Dream.

Cesar Chavez is probably the most iconic figure of the labor movement in California. He was a Mexican American labor activ...


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...the honeymoon period of the “Gold Rush,” fought to gain the equal rights that they thought, and rightfully deserved. This pride in one’s self and one’s country can be found throughout stories of Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong and their crusades in California. If it weren’t for these two leaders of labor, would anyone have been brave enough to take on the mantle and bring their respective races out of the shadows and into the spotlight of America? African American’s had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as their champions for equality. Mexican’s and Filipino’s had Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong, respectively, to tackle the tough issues and fight for their rights. Had it been anyone else, maybe an extra $0.20 would have been all Californian’s strived to achieve, instead of ushering in a new era that would shape these two cultures in America for years to come.



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