Community remembers Jessie Lopez De La Cruz

September 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The community came together to say farewell to a civil rights leader in the farm worker movement. Jessie Lopez De La Cruz was laid to rest Tuesday before hundreds of family members and friends. She was one of the United Farm Workers first female members and organizers in Fresno County.

A U.F.W. flag covered the coffin containing a pioneer in the farm worker movement, Jessie Lopez De La Cruz. "She was one of the best organizers the UFW has ever had within our organization and throughout the years," said UFW president, Arturo Rodriguez.

Hundreds of community leaders and family members packed St. John's cathedral in downtown Fresno to pay their respects to the labor organizer who was one of the union's first female members. "She ran the first hiring hall here in Fresno County in Parlier, for workers. Most importantly, the whole sense of fighting injustice," said De La Cruz' son, Roberto.

Jessie joined in her 40's after Cesar Chavez visited her Parlier home to talk to farm workers about forming a union. "She volunteered for everything, even when she did the work for the farm workers union, she was never paid for that work. Everything she did was on a volunteer basis," said civil rights leader Dolores Huerta.

Huerta worked with Jessie in the early stages of the movement to mobilize some of the first boycotts. She described her as a courageous person. "She just had so much dignity and I think that's why people just loved Jessie because she was just such an inspiration to everybody," said Huerta.

It's that legacy of fighting to improve the lives of farm workers community leaders say will live on. "Her values were to ensure that farm workers were treated like human beings. They were respected, they were treated with dignity like anyone else here in the nation," said Rodriguez.

De La Cruz passed away on Labor Day. She was 93.


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