Grape growers in Delano, ex-farmworkers in Salinas, historians at Stanford University, and old boycotters and UFW volunteers everywhere ..... an eclectic mix!
In the past week, I've spoken in Salinas, Bakersfield, Pasadena, Palo Alto and Menlo Park to audiences that included farmworkers, growers, ex-UFW volunteers, journalists, and historians -- along with a few interested readers who had no direct tie or previous connection to the subject.
Historians are interested in the book because the archival research documents much about Chavez and his movement that has never been written before. People who lived through the turbulent times are fascinated by learning more about Chavez and finding out what really was going on -- regardless of which side of the fights they were on. A book signing at Russo's Books in Bakersfield brought together several branches of the Zaninovich family -- longtime grape growers in the nearby Delano area -- some farmworker families, and a few former volunteers for the UFW. (Thanks to all of them for making "The Union of Their Dreams" the second besteslling book at Russo's last week!) I had the unusual opportunity to introduce a recently retired grape worker to the boss of the vineyard where her husband works.
I've heard from a lot of former UFW volunteers who feel the book captures their experience and fills in a lot of gaps -- helping them really understand for the first time events they lived through, events that shaped them profoundly. Their children are also reading the book intently -- and learning about their parents. (More about that in a future post.)