88 Inspiring Quotes by Cesar Chavez
Welcome to our collection of quotes by 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.
There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.
You are never strong enough that you don't need help.
If they had $2.00 for food, they had to give $1.00 to the union. Otherwise, they would never get out of the trap of poverty. They would never have a union because they couldn't afford to sacrifice a little bit more on top of their misery.
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.
It is not good enough to know why we are oppressed and by whom. We must join the struggle for what is right and just. Jesus does not promise that it will be an easy way to live life and His own life certainly points in a hard direction; but it does promise that we will be "satisfied" (not stuffed; but satisfied). He promises that by giving life we will find life -- full, meaningful life as God meant it.
Non-violence is a very powerful weapon. Most people don't understand the power of non-violence and tend to be amazed by the whole idea. Those who have been involved in bringing about change and see the difference between violence and non-violence are firmly committed to a lifetime of non-violence, not because it is easy or because it is cowardly, but because it is an effective and very powerful way.
To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence.
You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.
A movement with some lasting organization is a lot less dramatic than a movement with a lot of demonstrations and a lot of marching and so forth. The more dramatic organization does catch attention quicker. Over the long haul, however, it's a lot more difficult to keep together because you're not building solid...A lasting organization is one in which people will continue to build, develop and move when you are not there.
If you're not frightened that you might fail, you'll never do the job. If you're frightened, you'll work like crazy.
Our language is the reflection of ourselves.
Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.
Until the chance for political participation is there, we who are poor will continue to attack the soft part of the American system -- its economic structure. We will build power through boycotts, strikes, new union -- whatever techniques we can develop. These attacks on the status quo will come, not because we hate, but because we know America can construct a humane society for all its citizens -- and that if it does not, there will chaos.
In the no-nonsense school of adversity, which we did not choose for ourselves, we are learning how to operate a labor union.
I have met many, many farm workers and friends who love justice and who are willing to sacrifice for what is right. They have a quality about them that reminds me of the beatitudes. They are living examples that Jesus' promise is true: they have ben hungry and thirsty for righteousness and they have been satisfied. They are determined, patient people who believe in life and who give strength to others. They have given me more love and hope and strength than they will ever know.
So they are trying to do something about it. They are not doing it by seeking charity. They are not begging at the welfare office. They are not, like many of their employers, lobbying the halls of Congress with their gold plated tin cups asking to be paid for not growing crops. They are trying to do it in the way that millions of other Americans have shown is the right way-organization, unionism, collective bargaining.
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.
Look at the John Birch Society. Look at Hitler. The reactionaries are always better organizers.
In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love.
There's no reason to be non-violent. There's no challenge unless you are living for people.
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.
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.
It's amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn.
The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.
If we are full of hatred, we can't really do our work. Hatred saps all that strength and energy we need to plan.
We are confident. We have ourselves. We know how to sacrifice. We know how to work. We know how to combat the forces that oppose us. But even more than that, we are true believers in the whole idea of justice. Justice is so much on our side, that that is going to see us through.
This is the beginning of a social movement in fact and not in pronouncements. We seek our basic, God -- given rights as human beings...We shall do it without violence because it is our destiny. To the growers and to all who oppose us, we say the words of Benito Juarez: 'Respect for another's right is the meaning of peace.'
Self dedication is a spiritual experience.
Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others.
In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence.
It is clearly evident that our path travels through a valley of teas well known to all farm workers, because in all valleys the way of the farm worker has bene one of sacrifice for generations. Our sweat and our blood have fallen on this land to make other men rich. This Pilgrimage is a witness to the suffering we have seen for generations.
It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.
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.
We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them -- exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting animals in the name of food.
The first principal of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating.
If you're outraged at conditions, then you can't possibly be free or happy until you devote all your time to changing them and do nothing but that. But you can't change anything if you want to hold onto a good job, a good way of life and avoid sacrifice.
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.
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.
Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.
We don't know how God chooses martyrs. We do know that they give us the most precious gift they possess -- their very lives.
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.
The life of the union depends upon more people getting to share the limelight, because with the limelight also comes responsibility and with the responsibility comes a little sharing of the load." "There isn't enough money to organize poor people. There never is enough money to organize anyone. If you put it on the basis of money, you're not going to succeed.
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.
There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.
The end of all knowledge should be service to others.
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.
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 hungers on us, and now we hunger for justice.
When workers fall back on violence, they are lost. Oh, they might win some of their demands and might end a strike a little earlier, but they give up their imagination, their creativity, their will to work hard and to suffer for what they believe is right.
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.
It takes a lot of punishment to be able to do anything to change the social order.
The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.
There is no law for farm labor organizing, save the law of the jungle.
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.
If you are interested in preventing animal suffering, the first thing you should give up is eggs and milk, because the animals who produce those foods lead the most unhappy lives. You would do better to eat meat and stop eating eggs and dairy products.
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.
There's no turning back...We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart.
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.
The people who give you their food give you their heart.
The poor, you know, have a way of solving problems...they have a tremendous capacity for suffering. And so when you build a vehicle to get something done, as we've done here in the strike and the boycott, then they continue to suffer -- and maybe a little bit more -- but the suffering becomes less important because they see a chance of progress; sometimes progress itself. They've been suffering all their live.s It's a question of suffering with some kind of hope now. That's better than suffering with no hope at all.
Without a union, the people are always cheated, and they are so innocent.
Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people.
You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.
Farm workers are society's canaries. Farm workers -- and their children -- demonstrate the effects of pesticide poisoning before anyone else.
Through Gandhi and my own life experience, I have learned about nonviolence. I believe that human life is a very special gift from God, and that no one has a right to take that away in any cause, however just. I am convinced that nonviolence is more powerful than violence.
The thing that we have going for us is that people are willing to sacrifice themselves.
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.
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.
Jesus' life and words are a challenge at the same time that they are Good News. They are a challenge to those of us who are poor and oppressed. By His life He is calling us to give ourselves to others, to sacrifice for those who suffer, to share our lives with our brothers and sisters who are also oppressed. He is calling us to "hunger and thirst after justice" in the same way that we hunger and thirst after food and water: that is, by putting our yearning into practice.
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.
I remember with strong feelings the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. Sometimes, fathers and mothers would take money out of their meager food budgets just because they believed that farm workers could and must build their own union. I remember thinking then that with spirit like that... we had to win. No force on earth could stop us.
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.
Society is made up of groups, and as long as the smaller groups do not have the same rights and the same protection as others -- I don't care whether you call it capitalism or communism -it is not going to work. Somehow, the guys in power have to be reached by counterpower, or through a change in their hearts and minds, or change will not come.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment.
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.
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.
In non-violence the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means.
Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization.
We know what unions have done for other people. We have seen it and we have studied and we have cherished the idea of unionism. We have seen the history and development of unions in this country and we tell the growers that we want nothing more, but that we want our own union and we are going to fight for it as long as it takes.
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.
Violence just hurts those who are already hurt...Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it.