Fancy Meeting You Here Sen. Ralph Yarborough intended his participation in the Valley marchers’ Labor Day march to the Capitol to be a surprise, but when he arrived at the airport the night before he ran into Speaker of the House Ben Barnes. “Well,” he said to an associate as they went to get their bags, “we blew that one. I wonder how long it’ll take him to call John.” with the farm workers’ union until they win justice on their jobs.” Yarborough was then introduced by Matthews as “the greatest senator from Texas since Sam Houston, one who refused to drive in an air-conditioned Lincoln and tell these people to go home.” The senator, obviously enjoying himself, began: “Amigos, compadres fellow marchers. This is a great day in the history of Texas and an important day in the history of America. “This is my home city. I love it here in Austin. Some people have said there would be no state officials here to welcome you today. However, as our senior U.S. Senator, I hold the highest elective office” [here he was interrupted by a thunderous 20-second ovation] “and with all the power and good will which the people of Texas can give . . . I welcome you with open arms and a warm heart to my home city of Austin.” Yarborough criticized “thOse who turned their backs on you and on the shoulder of the road at New Braunfels tried to bluff you out of your march.” Those who had marched 500 miles from Rio Grande City, he said, were “the heroes of Texas” whose deed marked “the beginning of an epoch in farm life and the lifting of people from poverty in this great state.” “I’ve been to many gubernatorial inaugurations,” the senator continued, “but I never saw this many at the inauguration of a governor as you have here today for the inauguration of justice.” Yarborough said that long after the march, those who did not march would say “I wish I had been there that day,” and those who marched would tell their children and their children’s children, “I was there.” “As King Henry V said on the eve of Agincourt, ‘Tomorrow is St. Crispin’s Day,’ and we in it will be remembered We few We happy few We band of brothers For he who stands with me today shall be my brother And Gentlemen in England now abed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks That fought with us upon St. Crispin’s Day.” 8 The Texas Observer In 1960, he recalled, he had campaigned “day after day and night after night for the late beloved John F. Kennedy” and had heard him say, on a number of occasions: “One hundred years ago, Abraham Lincoln wrote a friend: ‘I see the storm coming. I know there is a God and that He hates injustice. If He has a part and a place for me, I believe that I am ready.’ . . . Now in 1960 we know there is a God. We know He hates injustice. And we see the storm coming. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready.” Yarborough added, “If He has a place for me, I am ready.” EQUALLING the excitement, for the crowd, of Yarborough’s talk and presence was a telegram from U.S Sen. Robert Kennedy: “I regret that I am unable to accept your invitation to address the Labor Day rally, but you can be sure that I share your aspirations and will continue to try to obtain for all farm workers a decent standard of living and the protection governing other workers by American law.” Eugene Nelson opened his speech, “Ladies and gentlemen, and Governor Connally, wherever you are . . .” Later he said, “To the little man who isn’t here, I ask: what are you hiding from, John Connally? Are you hiding from this gathering that asks only justice? Or are you hiding from your own conscience? On election day, two years from now, there will be no place to hide, governor, for a sleeping giant has awakened in the farm workers of Texas and will never sleep again.” The marchers are not going back. to the Valley to surrender or to starve but to fight, Nelson asserted. Cong. Henry Gonzalez, San Antonio, who had not been in San Antonio to greet the marchers when they marched through that city, said, “Today is really a day of departure. . . . It is not for those of us who have not marched to make long speeches,” but he wanted to say that even if a necessary state minimum wage law was passed, it would be “just a fraction of what must be done.” Specifically, he said, unemployment insurance for farm workers is just as vital, because they work only part of the year. He had come, Gonzalez said, “to share with you your goals and objectives.” He referred to “many of us who may not be active in the march but are with you every step of the way.” Kircher brought greetings from George Meany and advised the farm workers to “drink in all the signs of warmth and support you see here today, because tomorrow it’s back to the old way of life in the fields at 3 and 4 in the mornings, working under a reactionary segment of the community who don’t want to see you band together.” Kircher pointed out that ten per cent of the unorganized workers of the country are in Texas. “I give you the pledge of 15-million AFL-CIO workers that from now to eternity we will stay behind you until you obtain the goals you set for yourselves,” he concluded. Father Gonzales, discarding his text, moved by the presence of his mother and father, declared “We want these people to get enough for their people to eat! “My mother had 18 children and she has been working in the fields for 40 years. She still works in the fields. She just came back from Minnesota. Why should she have to do that? “My father has cancer, yet he is working in the field. Forty years migrating to look for food is too long. “The wages in the Valley are not 85 cents. They are 40 cents, 50 cents, and sometimes 60 cents an hour. It’s a disgrace a Texas disgrace and a national disgrace!” Just as the voice of God came upon the people of Israel, said Rev. Novarro, “so the voice has come, I believe, to two men in this state, Father Gonzales and Rev. Navarro. Divine providence itself, and nothing else, could have linked a Roman Catholic priest and a Baptist minister together!” AFTER THE RALLY the scene shifted to Zilker Park in southwest Austin for barbecue, beer, speeches, singing, and conversation. Albert Pena, Bexar County commissioner, noted that priests, rabbis, and ministers were at the rally, “but where was John Connally? He thought he was still on the ranch; he thought he was still the Anglo foreman talking to those little Mexicans back on the ranch in Wilson County, telling the people to go on back home. But we couldn’t go back home, we are home. Sometimes I wonder what I am; I’ve decided I’m an American, a Texan, a Mexican, and a Catholic radical. I’m an American because I was born here; I’m a Texan, also because I was born here, and I’m gonna stay here; I’m a Mexican because nobody lets me forget it; and I’m a Catholic radical because if I were a Protestant I’d be a Protestant radical, and if I were a Jew I’d be a Jewish radical.” Senator Barbara Jordan of Houston told the gathering in the park, “You’ve heard enough words today; what you really want to see is us pass a minimum wage bill. Take heart today, for no one is trying to give you anything but what you justly deserve. You are not begging for anything. You are not requesting anything; you are making your demand.” SOURCES 1San Antonio Express, 9-6-66, 2San Antonio Express, 9-6-66. 3Jacksonville Daily Progress, 96-66. 4United Press International in the Dallas Times-Herald, 9-1-66. 5Associated Press in the Houston Post, 9-3-66. 6San Antonio Express, 9-1-66. 7Houston Chronicle, 9-7-66. 8Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9-7-66. 9Dallas Times-Herald, 94-66. 10Stuart Long in the Corpus Christi Caller, 9-5-66. “San Antonio Express, 9-6-66. 12Edinburg Daily Review, 9-6-66. 13San Antonio Express, 9-6-66. The Observer, in common with the daily press, has been misspelling Rev. James Novarro’s name as “Navarro.” Novarro’s name card at the Labor Day breakfast in Austin was misspelled Navarro as he confirmed to us this sad report.
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