“Some day, people will want to know what happened in our movement, what mistakes we made and what we accomplished.”
LatinaLista — Those were the words LeRoy Chatfield remembers his good friend Cesar Chavez saying to him 40 years ago when he directed Mr. Chatfield to gather up all the documents, photos, correspondence and graphics that chronicled the development of the National Farm Workers Association, the precursor of the United Farm Workers of America.
Yet, it wasn’t that easy of a task. Mr. Chatfield had to hunt through various closets, nooks and crannies scattered in a half-dozen Delano locations. He then had to organize his findings and ship them off to the UFW Archives at Wayne State University.
Mr. Chatfield understood the importance of Cesar Chavez’ work and he knew that the archives at Wayne State University wouldn’t be seen by all the people who should be able to see them so he did something that isn’t uncommon in this era of the internet — he created a website to publish those same documents and thousands more that have never before been released.
In fact, according to Mr. Chatfield, 95 percent of the papers posted on the site have never before been seen by the public.
At the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, visitors can read, see and hear history in the making from the years 1962 to 1993. In addition to the documents, the site features an extensive gallery of photos, videos, music and recordings of interviews with Cesar Chavez and others who were instrumental in the early days of fighting for farm workers’ rights.
For Mr. Chatwood, compiling this site is fulfilling a long-ago promise he made to his close friend so that people wouldn’t forget the history behind the accomplishments of the United Farm Workers of America.
All Mr. Chatwood wishes for now is for students, librarians, archivists, filmmakers and teachers to pass along news of this site and the history it chronicles so that future generations will know about an important chapter of Hispanic and civil rights history.