Delano in Kern County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
The Forty Acres
National Historic Landmark.
This property possesses national significance
in commemorating the history of the
United States of America.
Erected 2008 by National Park Service United States Department of the Interior.
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
Location. 35° 45.789′ N, 119° 17.347′ W. Marker is in Delano, California, in Kern County. Marker is on Cesar Chavez Lane 2.6 miles west of U.S. 99, on the right. Touch for map. Take Garces Highway/Kernell Highway West from U.S. 99 to The 40 Acres. The most notable structure on the highway is an empty gas station/truck stop on the North side of the highway. Turn across the bridge just before the gas station. Marker is in this post office area: Delano CA 93215, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 13 miles Korean and Vietnam Veterans Memorial (approx. 12.3 miles away).
More about this marker. This quiet 40 acres of land, its empty gas station, community center/classroom and former farm workers clinic, now United Farm Workers Headquarters, was a bustling center of social activism during the years of the United Farm Workers organizing activities, table grape and lettuce strikes.
Regarding The Forty Acres. As a youth I attended; rather, my mother attended me, to the Pacoima Congregational Church. The pastor, Paul Kittlaus, his wife Jeannie, and a handful of members were very active in the 1960's Civil Rights Movement.
The United Farm Workers Movement, at least photos from rallies, came to church. Our youth group conducted a food drive and hauled our scanty boxes to The 40 Acres.
We met Cesar Chavez, a quiet, small-statured man who welcomed and thanked us for our donations. We drove to the Community Hall, still on the site, to drop off our goods. Suddenly, I had to relate to people I did not know, did not speak my language, as far as I knew, and in the vocabulary of my Dad's house, were all dangerous. I knew how to relate to children, since there were lots in my home. I wrestled with a pack of them, we all had fun, and it was time to eat.
More than one hundred people sat at long community tables to eat chile verde, the hottest food in my life at that point, frijoles and hand-made tortillas. I politely finished my plate, sweat streaming from all pores. I haven't stopped eating chile verde since.
I'll stop writing here as I thank Dr. Sylvia Lopez of Chico and her students for taking my "Mexicanizing" a step or two further. I am able to walk taller in our world and appreciate all humankind better. Before I leave, I will take a moment to remember Hazel Umtuch and Doris Buck, elders of the Yakama Nation Cultural Center who taught me how to toast and eat salmon skin over an open fire on the slopes of Mount Adams, and threatened to further "Indianize" me on the trip home. Rest in Peace. May you behold the splendors of God from the loftiest mount. Along the road of life, my father, native of Kansas, became the proud God Father to the late-in-life child of his Hispanic next door neighbors. His children and grand children marry and socialize with the original inhabitants of the American Southwest, and every one's doing fine.
I was a Pacoima Congregational Church kid too. Not only do I remember the UFW trip, but I also remember your family, the Englishes.
Those days left a strong impression on me. I've never looked at a grape or head of lettuce in the same way since meeting those heroic and brave UFW strikers. I'm glad to see they've been honored with this marker.
Viva la huelga,
— Submitted November 20, 2013, by Russ Buchanan of Woodland Hills, California.
Categories. • Civil Rights • Hispanic Americans • Industry & Commerce • Labor Unions •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 17, 2012, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona. This page has been viewed 992 times since then and 49 times this year. Last updated on April 25, 2012, by Keith S Smith of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 17, 2012, by Chris English of Phoenix, Arizona. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.