Marchers stop, pray for peace at Cesar Chavez grave

Marchers stop, pray for peace at the grave site of former UFW leader Cesar Chavez

The Bakersfield Californian

Wednesday, June 7, 1995

Local, page B3

Marchers stop, pray for peace

[photo, not shown here, captioned:]

Yusen Yamato, a Buddhist monk, prays at the grave site of former UFW leader Cesar Chavez in Keene. Yamato is leading a group of 24 in a peace walk across the United States. -- Henry Barrios / The Californian

Marchers stop, pray for peace

By Chris Harrison
Californian correspondent

Keene - A chanting, drumbeating procession of global peace proponents marching across America made a prayer stop at the gravesite of labor activist Cesar Chavez Tuesday, as they walked from Tehachapi to Bakersfield.

Yusen Yamato, a non-sectarian Buddhist monk, is leading the multi-national group of 24 peace walkers on a six-month "Global Peace Walk '95" from New York to the United Nation's 50th Anniversary in San Francisco on June 26.

Wrapped in a saffron-yellow monk's robe over a polyfleece sweatshirt, the goateed Yamato prayed at the resting place of Chavez to honor his work as a non-violent defender of human rights.

"I pray for the spirit of Cesar Chavez, I pray for the United Nations and I prayer for those all over the world fighting for land and life," Yamato said in a prayer ceremony.

He was surrounded by Cesar Chavez Foundation workers and Global Peace walkers from four countries who had either started the walk last January in New York or joined the group along their journey over 3,000 through 11 states. More walkers are expected to fall in step with the pilgrimage to San Francisco after a four-day rally in San Jose on June 14.

Peace walkers have loaded their clothes, bedding and supplies aboard three school buses converted into mobile support vehicles. They are walking the highways and speaking to citizens about the need for "Global Peace Now," as a world-wide, United Nations mandate, said Yamato, 48, a Zen Buddhist from Japan.

The visit to Chavez' gravesite is just one of the trek's high points, which ranged from a nuclear awareness rally at Three Mile Island, Pa., to a three-day fast supporting Leonard Peltier, an American Indian activist incarcerated at Leavenworth Prison in Kansas.

Along the way, the walkers use Yamato's spiritual practices of chanting and drumming to help deliver their prayer for global peace, said walk coordinator David Williams, a chemical physicist from Santa Barbara.

"We're trying to foster global consciousness of peace in connection with the anniversary of the UN," Williams said. Using the "Global Peace Now" slogan as a mantra, the walkers hope their message goes out on a spiritual level with their prayers. On the material plane, they spread their message to the local citizenry and ask for written support from public officials. The group plans to walk to Bakersfield today stopping by City Hall at about 11 a.m. to ask Mayor Bob Price for a letter of support before heading to San Jose.

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For more information about the Global Peace Walk Project, list of proclamations and letters of support, etc, see:

http://www.angelfire.com/on/GEAR2000/gpw.html