Who is Cesar Chavez
Cesar Chavez was a civil rights activist and labour leader born in Yuma, Arizona, US, on the 31st March 1927, passing away on the 23rd April 1993. His career was spent as a labourer before a short stint in the US Navy, and then moving into activism and community leadership. His views were primarily of a leftist ideal along with Cathlotic teachings that he had grown up a part of.
Some of his many achievements include co-founding the National Farm Workers Association, later merging with another union to form the AFW, which provided insurance, credit and a newspaper designed for farmworkers. During the 1960s, he organised many strikes for farmworkers, taking inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi and his focus on non-violent tactics. As a result of his left leanings and support from other unions, he was monitored by government authorities.
He grew more and more isolated, as well as vocal and as a result, the membership of his union began to drop but that didn’t stop him and his legacy implementing massive change and improvements for union labourers, continuing even after his death in 1993. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.
Cesar Chavez Quotes
1. We do not need to kill or destroy to win. We are a movement that builds and not destroys.
2. However important the struggle is and however much misery and poverty and degradation exist, we know that it cannot be more important than one human life.
3. Our union represents a breaking away…represents sharing a power, represent questioning, represents a new force…however long it takes, we are geared for a struggle.
4. If you give yourself totally to the nonviolence struggle for peace and justice you also find that people give you their hearts and you will never go hungry and never be alone.
5. I think one of the great, great problems…is confusing people to the point where they become immobile. In fact, the more things people can find out for themselves, the more vigor the organization is going to have.
6. If you win non-violently, then you have a double victory, you have not only won your fight, but you remain free.
7. We’re going to pray a lot and picket a lot.
8. The strike and the boycott, they have cost us much. What they have not paid us in wages, better working conditions, and new contracts, they have paid us in self-respect and human dignity.
9. Non-violence has suffered its biggest defeat in the hands of people who most want to talk about it.
10. We are organizers at heart. Most of us in the movement take great pride in being able to put things together.
11. In non-violence the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means.
12. Violence just hurts those who are already hurt…Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it.
13. Organizing is an educational process. The best educational process in the union is the picket line and the boycott. You learn about life.
14. We are certain God’s will is that all men share in the good things this earth produces.
15. You know, if people are not pacifists, it’s not their fault. It’s because society puts them in that spot. You’ve got to change it. You don’t just change a man – you’ve got to change his environment as you do it.
16. Look at the John Birch Society. Look at Hitler. The reactionaries are always better organizers.
17. The only ones who make things change are fanatics. If you’re not a fanatic around here, you can’t cut it.
18. If we are full of hatred, we can’t really do our work. Hatred saps all that strength and energy we need to plan.
19. Non-violence exacts a very high price from one who practices it. But once you are able to meet that demand then you can do most things.
20. Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization.
21. We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves.
22. The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.
23. I would not take one cup of coffee from a grower…There’s not a good one. I hate them. A few presents, a little talk, then the noose. That’s how capitalism works.
24. If you’re not frightened that you might fail, you’ll never do the job. If you’re frightened, you’ll work like crazy.
25. The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.
26. Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment.
27. When a man or woman, young, or old, takes a place on the picket line for even a day or two, he will never be the same again.
28. What is at stake is human dignity. If a man is not accorded respect he cannot respect himself and if he does not respect himself, he cannot demand it.
29. The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
30. Nonviolence is really tough. You don’t practice nonviolence at conferences; you practice it on picket-lines.
31. Talk is cheap…It is the way we organize and use our lives everyday that tells what we believe in.
32. Self dedication is a spiritual experience.
33. It takes a lot of punishment to be able to do anything to change the social order.
34. We are suffering. We have suffered. And we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause.
35. When any person suffers for someone in greater need, that person is a human.
36. When you sacrifice, you force others to sacrifice. It’s an extremely powerful weapon.
37. Our very lives are dependent, for sustenance, on the sweat and sacrifice of the campesinos. Children of farm workers should be as proud of their parents’ professions as other children are of theirs.
38. In 1968, I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry, and unhappy like we do..
39. There are many reasons for why a man does what de does. To be himself he must be able to give it all. If a leader cannot give it all he cannot expect his people to give anything.
40. Just as Dr. King was a disciple of Gandhi and Christ, we must now be Dr. King’s disciples. Dr. King challenged us to work for a greater humanity. I only hope that we are worthy of his challenge.
41. I’m not going to ask for anything unless the workers want it. If they want it, they’ll ask for it.
42. The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature.
43. Because we have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything – even our lives – in our struggle for justice.
44. What I do shows people what kind of person I am.
45. When you have people together who believe in something very strongly – whether it’s religion or politics or unions – things happen.
46. There is enough love and good will in our movement to give energy to our struggle and still have plenty left over to break down and change the climate of hate and fear around us.
47. In the final analysis it doesn’t really matter what the political system is…We don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.
48. Never, never is it possible to reach someone if you become angry or bitter only love and gentleness can do it. Maybe not this time but maybe the next or the hundredth time.
49. We must understand that the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline.
50. There’s no reason to be non-violent. There’s no challenge unless you are living for people.
51. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.
52. Concentration is inspiration. You must be completely overtaken by your work and your subject. Only then do all your influences and experience come up to the surface.
53. I’ve always maintained that it isn’t the form that’s going to make the difference. It isn’t the rule or the procedure or the ideology, but it’s human beings that will make it.
54. There’s no turning back…We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart..
55. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others.
Den the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering, and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick.
57. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
58. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.
59. Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.
60. It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.