Cesar Chavez quotes

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Cesar Chavez

Birthdate: 31. March 1927
Date of death: 23. April 1993

Cesar Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. Originally a Mexican American farm worker, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida.

During his lifetime, Colegio Cesar Chavez was one of the few institutions named in his honor, but after his death he became a major historical icon for the Latino community, with many schools, streets, and parks being named after him. He has since become an icon for organized labor and leftist politics, symbolizing support for workers and for Hispanic empowerment based on grass roots organizing. He is also famous for popularizing the slogan "Sí, se puede" , which was adopted as the 2008 campaign slogan of Barack Obama. Although the UFW faltered a few years after Chavez died in 1993, his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. He has since become an iconic "folk saint" in the pantheon of Mexican Americans. His birthday, March 31, is a federal commemorative holiday observed by several states in the US. He received many honors and accolades, while still living and after his death, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994.

„All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded.“

—  Cesar Chavez

What the Future Holds (1984)
Context: All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded. That dream was born in my youth, it was nurtured in my early days of organizing. It has flourished. It has been attacked.

„What do we want the Church to do? We don't ask for more cathedrals. We don't ask for bigger churches of fine gifts. We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Mexican-American and the Church (1968)
Context: What do we want the Church to do? We don't ask for more cathedrals. We don't ask for bigger churches of fine gifts. We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us. We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother. We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.

„This is the beginning of a social movement in fact and not in pronouncements. We seek our basic, God-given rights as human beings. Because we have suffered — and are not afraid to suffer — in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything, even our lives, in our fight for social justice.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Plan of Delano (1965)
Context: This is the beginning of a social movement in fact and not in pronouncements. We seek our basic, God-given rights as human beings. Because we have suffered — and are not afraid to suffer — in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything, even our lives, in our fight for social justice. We shall do it without violence because that is our destiny. To the ranchers, and to all those who opposes, we say, in the words of Benito Juárez: "El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz." [Respect for another's right is the meaning of peace. ]

„We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Mexican-American and the Church (1968)
Context: What do we want the Church to do? We don't ask for more cathedrals. We don't ask for bigger churches of fine gifts. We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us. We ask the Church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice, and for love of brother. We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.

„We are suffering. We have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Plan of Delano (1965)
Context: We are suffering. We have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause. We have suffered unnumbered ills and crimes in the name of the Law of the Land. Our men, women, and children have suffered not only the basic brutality of stoop labor, and the most obvious injustices of the system; they have also suffered the desperation of knowing that the system caters to the greed of callous men and not to our needs. Now we will suffer for the purpose of ending the poverty, the misery, and the injustice, with the hope that our children will not be exploited as we have been. They have imposed hunger on us, and now we hunger for justice. We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

„When we refer to the Church we should define the word a little. We mean the whole Church, the Church as an ecumenical body spread around the world, and not just its particular form in a parish in a local community.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Mexican-American and the Church (1968)
Context: When we refer to the Church we should define the word a little. We mean the whole Church, the Church as an ecumenical body spread around the world, and not just its particular form in a parish in a local community.
The Church we are talking about is a tremendously powerful institution in our society, and in the world. That Church is one form of the Presence of God on Earth, and so naturally it is powerful. It is powerful by definition. It is a powerful moral and spiritual force which cannot be ignored by any movement.

„Across the San Joaquin Valley, across California, across the entire Southwest of the United States, wherever there are Mexican people, wherever there are farm workers, our movement is spreading like flames across ad dry plain. Our pilgrimage is the match that will light our cause for all farm workers to see what is happening here, so that they may do as we have done. The time has come for the liberation of the poor farm worker.
History is on our side. May the strike go on! Viva la causa!“

—  Cesar Chavez

A similar statement (perhaps used in a later declaration) has been quoted at the UFW site http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?menu=research&inc=history/09.html: "Across the San Joaquin valley, across California, across the entire nation, wherever there are injustices against men and women and children who work in the fields — there you will see our flags — with the black eagle with the white and red background, flying. Our movement is spreading like flames across a dry plain."
The Plan of Delano (1965)

„We shall unite. We have learned the meaning of Unity.“

—  Cesar Chavez

The Plan of Delano (1965)

„I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we (humans) do.“

—  Cesar Chavez

As quoted in Lumen https://books.google.it/books?hl=it&id=c4Bn6G2AfrIC (1986) by G. J. Caton, p. 133

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