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Grade Level: 7-8
Region: 3
Student: Rebekah Bilek
Teacher: Suzanne Dutra
Chapter: Templeton TA


The Leader - César E. Chávez


César Chávez has changed many lives. He has also influenced numerous individuals like my own family. My grandma was raised in a very poor Mexican home but her family had hope because they saw others like César Chávez help make the country better for the Hispanic population. César Chávez was a teenager when he went to work in the fields. He noticed how badly migrant farm-workers were treated and how their living spaces were horrendous. He tried talking to the farmers about more money and better working conditions because they were working very hard and he noticed that farmers exploited the workers. Excelling in school was hard for immigrants too, and my grandma and her four other siblings experienced much difficulty trying to learn English and to succeed. Working and becoming educated was difficult for low income Hispanics, but my grandma had hope and now I have a better life because of her family’s struggles and the difference that Chávez made in this country.

My grandma and her family suffered tremendously in poverty. She remembers having to walk to school, hunger gnawing harshly in her stomach. She would follow the rich kids as they were eating their oranges on the way to school. She would eat the orange peels as they fell onto the dirty ground in front of her. Her family lived in an adobe house with a dirt floor and only one bed for the family of seven. César Chávez’s life was also very hard because of the unfairness and poverty that he too, lived in. “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 lives. It is a question of suffering with some kind of hope now. That is better than suffering with no hope at all.” – César E. Chávez

Martha, my grandma, had hope and so did her family. They migrated to the United States, hoping for a better life. Martha and her siblings were able to finish high school and her brothers were able to get college degrees. My grandparents had to work hard, but there was hope for a better life for their children even though my grandparents could not go to school. César Chávez loved books and school and learning. Chávez completed eighth grade before dropping out of school to work in the fields. He then went into the Marines in 1944, where he experienced racial discrimination, as he had in classroom and fields. Chávez never let any of it get him down. He lived by the words he spoke, “If you are not frightened that you might fail, you will never do the job. If you are frightened, you’ll work like crazy.” – César E. Chávez

I have a better life now because of my grandma’s suffering. I am able to get an education and know that I can become anything that I want to be. My parents and grandparents have instilled in me a passion for helping others and to stand up for what is right because they have seen the difference one life can make. Chávez was a great example of one life making a difference. He helped others and was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in and what was right. “The end of all education should surely be service to others.” – César E. Chávez

César Chávez, as you can see, influenced my family greatly. He made a huge difference for the migrant workers. César Chávez was a strong leader who believed in non-violence and justice. He was famous even after his death and he was greatly respected. My family has very smart and kind people who have enough food to eat and a warm bed to sleep on because they were given hope, worked hard, and made a difference for future generations. Thank you.

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