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Mourning Paul Schrade, a close ally and friend of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers

Paul Schrade, a key ally and trusted friend of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, passed away of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He was 97. Paul rallied vital support for the United Farm Workers during the five-year-long Delano grape strike and boycott and was a lifelong champion of civil and worker rights.

Paul Schrade was western director of the United Auto Workers and a longtime protégé of Walter P. Reuther when he brought the legendary United Auto Workers president—and substantial labor support—to Delano during the early months of historic vineyard walkouts in December 1965. Also close to the Kennedy brothers, Paul brought Senator Robert F. Kennedy to Delano on the two occasions he visited—for U.S. Senate hearings in 1966 and to help Cesar break his 25-day fast for nonviolence in 1968.

Of the five people who were wounded and survived the assassination of Robert Kennedy in June 1968, Paul was the most seriously wounded, shot in the head. After seeing Paul go down, Robert Kennedy asked, “Is everybody okay? Is Paul okay?”

Photo of Robert Kennedy at the farm worker movement’s “Forty Acres” headquarters near Delano when he came on March 10, 1968, the last day of Cesar Chavez’s fast for nonviolence. From left: Dolores Huerta, Robert Kennedy, Paul Schradel, and UFW leader Philip Vera Cruz.