More Than Headquarters, This Historic Site Was a Haven for Latinos

 | May 19, 2022

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When Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association – better known as United Farm Workers Association – they did so hoping to change the precarious working conditions of Latino workers in the United States.

In the early 1960s, the National Farm Workers Association needed more workers to carry out the union’s proposed operations. Cesar Chavez’s house was no longer enough. So, they rented a building on the corner of First Avenue and Albany Street in Delano that would become their headquarters.

At the time, the group offered itself as a social service and advocacy group for farm workers with a wide range of political and economic justice objectives.

In September 1965, Huerta and Chavez joined forces with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), led by Larry Itliong, to begin a strike against grape growers in the Delano area that would last five years.

UFW Headquarters
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A Refuge of Paz

The UFW planned the Delano Strike primarily at Forty Acres. After its conclusion, in 1972, Chavez moved the United Farm Workers of America headquarters to the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, California. There, they would establish Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady, Queen of Peace).

The 187-acre property contains 26 historic buildings. It had a wide range of accommodation units, hospital rooms, offices, kitchen, and dining facilities and was in an isolated area, which was just what Chavez was looking for.

More than 200 people occupied La Paz, including Chavez’s family. Residents lived and worked together, shared food, went to church, and celebrated achievements as a community.

La Paz was a shelter for farmworker leaders, members, and supporters. The fight for better work conditions continued there, with the UFW leading a national lettuce boycott and fighting to pass the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975.

In April 1993, Chavez died in his sleep and was mourned by ten thousand people in Delano, then buried in La Paz, according to his wishes.

In 2012 President Barack Obama visited La Paz and, together with the National Park Service, designated La Paz as a National Historic Landmark.

Fun Facts:

  • Before it became La Paz, it was a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients called Stony Brook Retreat.
  • The UFW still operates there and is open to the general public for tours.
  • When the property was for sale, The United Farm Workers Service Center offered to buy it. However, the county refused. That’s when a wealthy film producer who supported the cause purchased the property and resold it to the UFW.
  •  It was also the headquarters of El Malcriado newspaper and Radio Campesina station.

Location: Keene, California

Address: 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Rd. in Keene.

Google 360-View: Visit the UFW’s headquarters here.

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