Cesar Chavez is perhaps best known for his role in the 1965-1970 Delano grape strike and boycott and his nonviolent tactics in those protests.
Although Chavez insisted on nonviolence, there was dissent within the National Farmworkers Association as some workers believed more militant tactics were necessary. One of these workers was Epifanio Camacho. With Cesar Chavez day approaching, it is important to remember the work and life of Epifanio Camacho, who recently published his memoir.
Epifanio Camacho: The Making of a Militant
Camacho’s life story is critical to understanding how and why he became militant.
Epifanio Camacho was born in San Agustín, a village of about 150 inhabitants, in the province of Tamaulipas, Mexico, on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. Camacho spent his formative years in Mexico and migrated to the United States in 1955 when he was in his thirties.
Camacho’s first job was in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he worked as a gravedigger. His employer consistently underpaid him and Camacho eventually tired of this and left. He went to Oklahoma to pick cotton and then to Arizona to do the same. From there, he went to the Coachella Valley in California, where he picked dates. Eventually, he got a job at Montebello Rose in McFarland, California grafting rose plants.
The Rose Grafting Strike in McFarland
In McFarland, Camacho realized that he could not run from one…