Inspiration and wisdom from divine felines

88 Inspiring Quotes by Cesar Chavez

  • Last updated Jul 27 2021

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Cesar Chavez.

Wikipedia Summary for Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez (born Cesario Estrada Chavez ; Spanish: [tʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American labor leader and civil rights activist. Along with Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to become the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union. Ideologically, his world-view combined leftist politics with Roman Catholic social teachings.

Born in Yuma, Arizona to a Mexican American family, Chavez began his working life as a manual laborer before spending two years in the United States Navy. Relocating to California, where he married, he got involved in the Community Service Organization (CSO), through which he helped laborers register to vote. In 1959, he became the CSO's national director, a position based in Los Angeles. In 1962, he left the CSO to co-found the NFWA, based in Delano, California, through which he launched an insurance scheme, credit union, and the El Malcriado newspaper for farmworkers. Later that decade he began organizing strikes among farmworkers, most notably the successful Delano grape strike of 1965–1970. Amid the grape strike his NFWA merged with Larry Itliong's AWOC to form the UFW in 1967. Influenced by the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Chavez emphasized direct but nonviolent tactics, including pickets and boycotts, to pressure farm owners into granting strikers' demands. He imbued his campaigns with Roman Catholic symbolism, including public processions, masses, and fasts. He received much support from labor and leftist groups but was monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In the early 1970s, Chavez sought to expand the UFW's influence outside California by opening branches in other U.S. states. Viewing illegal immigrants as a major source of strike-breakers, he also pushed a campaign against illegal immigration into the U.S., which generated violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and caused schisms with many of the UFW's allies. Interested in co-operatives as a form of organization, he established a remote commune at Keene. His increased isolation and emphasis on unrelenting campaigning alienated many California farmworkers who had previously supported him and by 1973 the UFW had lost most of the contracts and membership it won during the late 1960s. His alliance with California Governor Jerry Brown helped ensure the passing of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, although the UFW's campaign to get its measures enshrined in California's constitution failed. Influenced by the Synanon religious organization, Chavez re-emphasized communal living and purged perceived opponents. Membership of the UFW dwindled in the 1980s, with Chavez refocusing on anti-pesticide campaigns and moving into real-estate development, generating controversy for his use of non-unionized laborers.

A controversial figure, UFW critics raised concerns about Chavez's autocratic control of the union, the purges of those he deemed disloyal, and the personality cult built around him, while farm-owners considered him a communist subversive. He became an icon for organized labor and leftist groups in the U.S. and posthumously became a "folk saint" among Mexican Americans. His birthday is a federal commemorative holiday in several U.S. states, while many places are named after him, and in 1994 he posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

man in black pants sitting on chair

There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.

--Cesar Chavez

fawn pug on bed

You are never strong enough that you don't need help.

--Cesar Chavez


blue sky with white clouds

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.

--Cesar Chavez



blue and white abstract painting

To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence.

--Cesar Chavez

woman in white and black stripe long sleeve shirt standing beside brown concrete building during daytime

You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.

--Cesar Chavez


photo of woman climbing mountain

If you're not frightened that you might fail, you'll never do the job. If you're frightened, you'll work like crazy.

--Cesar Chavez

sunflowers

Our language is the reflection of ourselves.

--Cesar Chavez

Longer Version:

Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.



yellow green leaf

In the no-nonsense school of adversity, which we did not choose for ourselves, we are learning how to operate a labor union.

--Cesar Chavez



silhouette of tree during sunset

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.

--Cesar Chavez



lightning strike at night

Look at the John Birch Society. Look at Hitler. The reactionaries are always better organizers.

--Cesar Chavez

silhouette photography of person in gray sailing boat in the middle of body of water

In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.

--Cesar Chavez

boy standing on grass and facing fence during daytime

There's no reason to be non-violent. There's no challenge unless you are living for people.

--Cesar Chavez

silhouette photo of mountain during night time

Since the Church is to be servant to the poor, it is our fault if that wealth is not channeled to help the poor in our world.

--Cesar Chavez

sun

Do not romanticize the poor...We are all people, human beings subject to the same temptations and faults as all others. Our poverty damages our dignity.

--Cesar Chavez

blue and white striped textile

Grant me courage to serve others; For in service there is true life.

--Cesar Chavez


white wooden dock on white sand

The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.

--Cesar Chavez

None

If we are full of hatred, we can't really do our work. Hatred saps all that strength and energy we need to plan.

--Cesar Chavez



sunflowers

Self dedication is a spiritual experience.

--Cesar Chavez

body of water

Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others.

--Cesar Chavez

white snow mountain

In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence.

--Cesar Chavez


two person standing while watching sky

It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.

--Cesar Chavez

Longer Version:

It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice.




silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

The first principal of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating.

--Cesar Chavez


red textile on brown wooden table

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.

--Cesar Chavez

yellow and black striped background

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.

--Cesar Chavez

moon near mountain ridge

Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.

--Cesar Chavez

white and blue ice on water

We don't know how God chooses martyrs. We do know that they give us the most precious gift they possess -- their very lives.

--Cesar Chavez

man running on seashore

The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.

--Cesar Chavez


empty seashore near high-rise building

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.

--Cesar Chavez

silver round analog wall clock

There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.

--Cesar Chavez

brown rocky mountain under blue sky during daytime

The end of all knowledge should be service to others.

--Cesar Chavez

woman standing on beachfront

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.

--Cesar Chavez



Clear blue ocean washing on the sandy shore on a clear day in Cancún

Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak. Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.

--Cesar Chavez

yellow flower field near mountain during daytime

It takes a lot of punishment to be able to do anything to change the social order.

--Cesar Chavez

mountains with trees under white star at night

The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.

--Cesar Chavez

multicolored heart LED light on wall

There is no law for farm labor organizing, save the law of the jungle.

--Cesar Chavez

desert under blue skies

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.

--Cesar Chavez


Arizona landscape rocks

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him -- the people who give you their food give you their heart.

--Cesar Chavez

yellow flower field near bare trees during daytime

There's no turning back...We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart.

--Cesar Chavez

rocky mountain

True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.

--Cesar Chavez

adult black and tan dachshund

The people who give you their food give you their heart.

--Cesar Chavez


silhouette photo of person holding flashlight under milk way

Without a union, the people are always cheated, and they are so innocent.

--Cesar Chavez


Arizona landscape

You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.

--Cesar Chavez


None

Farm workers are society's canaries. Farm workers -- and their children -- demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anyone else.

--Cesar Chavez


aerial's photo of metropolitan during night time\

The thing that we have going for us is that people are willing to sacrifice themselves.

--Cesar Chavez

silhouette of flower during sunset

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.

--Cesar Chavez

brown wooden surface

Who gets the risks? The risks are given to the consumer, the unsuspecting consumer and the poor work force. And who gets the benefits? The benefits are only for the corporations, for the money makers.

--Cesar Chavez


assorted-color beach houses

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.

--Cesar Chavez


snow covered pine trees

When 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.

--Cesar Chavez



white and black floral textile

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.

--Cesar Chavez

white concrete building

What we do know absolutely is that human lives are worth more than grapes and that innocent-looking grapes on the table may disguise poisonous residues hidden deep inside where washing cannot reach.

--Cesar Chavez

Longer Version:

There are vivid memories from my childhood-what we had to go through because of low wages and the conditions, basically because there was no union. I suppose if I wanted to be fair I could say that I'm trying to settle a personal score. I could dramatize it by saying that I want to bring social justice to farm workers. But the truth is that I went through a lot of hell, and a lot of people did. If we can even the score a little for the workers then we are doing something. Besides, I don't know any other work I like to do better than this. I really don't.


sunset

Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment.

--Cesar Chavez

girl and boy figurines

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.

--Cesar Chavez

seashore during golden hour

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.

--Cesar Chavez

woman standing on forest

In non-violence the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means.

--Cesar Chavez

raging waves through shores

Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization.

--Cesar Chavez


grayscale photography of raindrops

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.

--Cesar Chavez


sunset

Violence just hurts those who are already hurt...Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it.

--Cesar Chavez

We wish you a perfect day!