Length: 969 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
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Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in a small town near Yuma, Arizona. Cesar was born into a rather poor family. Cesar grew up in Arizona and inhabited a small adobe home along with his parents (United Farm Workers 1). In his early life Cesar experienced a lot of injustices and saw how not only his parents, but most farm workers were being mistreated and overworked. Cesar Chavez later learned a lesson in his life about injustices that he would never be able to forget (United Farm Workers 1). Cesar would say “ the love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being, but is also the most true to our nature” (United Farm Workers 1).
Also as a young boy during the 1930’s he saw how many people lost their jobs and homes, and had to basically walk around the country in order to find a new job (“Cesar Chavez” 1).
When Cesar was ten, due to the drought in the southwest, his parents were forced to become migrant farm workers (“Cesar Chavez” 1). After his parents became migrant farm workers Cesar Chavez had attended over thirty different schools and was only able to obtain a seventh grade education (“Cesar Chavez” 1). Through all of these harsh and tiring experiences, Cesar Chavez decided to start a migrant farm workers movement that would be very successful. Cesar Chavez was able to win the civil rights battle by being a strategic leader, having perseverant hope, and by gaining the support of common people, politicians, and Hollywood stars.
Cesar Chavez was a strategic leader because he was non violent, and he was very dedicated to the success of his movement. Cesar believed in non violence since he was young because his grandmother often spoke to him about the importance of religion and how to trust God (Young 78). Cesar read about St. Francis and Gandhi, and was influenced by both of these men to set a good example, so he adopted the philosophy of non violence (Houle 95). As a union organizer Chavez developed his plans based on his beliefs, the injustices suffered by the poor, the need to organize workers, and the power of public address (Houle 95). Chavez said that using violence would make his movement fail, and that violence never solves any problems (Houle 95).
Cesar Chavez viewed his civil rights issues as “not just another movement, but a movement to change the conditions of human life” (Houle 95). He followed the teachings of Gandhi, who helped India obtain their independence from England through nonviolent actions (“Cesar Chavez 2”). When landowners threatened Chavez he called a boycott on grapes throughout the whole country which was a great success because though this he obtained support from various organizations and people (“Cesar Chavez 2”). His perseverant and nonviolent strategies caught the attention of the people and proved to be a success.
A major reason that led to the success of his civil rights movement was the fact that he had perseverant hope and was very confident that whatever he planned was going to work for the better of the people. He lived by the motto “Si Se Puede” (Spanish for “Yes we can” or “It can be done”) and believed that his actions and his plans were going to work efficiently. Cesar proclaimed “We will win, we are winning, because ours is a revolution of mind and heart, not only economics” (Houle 95). Part of his perseverant hope and dedication was fasting. He believed fasting would allow people to see his commitment and dedication, and had hope that his civil rights movement was going to work (United Farm Workers 3). Cesar fasted in 1972 for 24 days and once again in 1988, for 36 days in which was part of his non-verbal communication with the people (United Farm Workers 3). Through fasting, marching, boycotts, and strikes people knew he was serious about the farm workers rights and knew he was not going to retreat until he and his people got what they wanted (United Farm Workers 3). Cesar said “The fast is a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all those who work beside me in the farm worker movement” (United Farm Workers 3). His commitment to the movement and perseverant hope inspired the people to strive even if odds were against them.
Through his nonviolent strategies, fastings, boycotts, strikes, and marches Cesar Chavez was able to obtain the support from common people, influential politicians, and famous Hollywood Stars. After he called the grape boycott in 1965, in which he discouraged the American people from buying grapes until working conditions improved for grape pickers, he attracted national attention and gained the support of many large labor unions such as the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), The United Auto Workers, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy (“Cesar Chavez 2). After Chavez completed his 36 day fast on August 21, 1988 he passed the fasting to many of his supporters such as Martin Sheen, actor; Edward Olmos, actor; Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy; Peter Chacon, Legislator; and Whoopi Goldberg, Actress (United Farm Workers 4). These people among many other politicians and Hollywood stars showed their support of Cesar Chavez’s Civil Rights Movement by fasting. His leadership skills and commitment to the people allowed him to obtain the support of influential people during the time of his Civil Rights Movement.
Cesar Chavez was able to win the Civil Rights Battle by being dedicated and committed to his goal, having confidence that his strategic plans would work, and by influencing important and famous people to give him their support. Through his boycotts, marches, and strikes Cesar Chavez achieved what he wanted for the people, which was better working conditions, better pay, and better treatment of workers. Cesar Chavez is now recognized as the Martin Luther King Jr. of the migrant farm workers, and of the Mexican People.