Grade Level: 5-6
Student: Allison Ortega
Teacher: Wendy Jensen
Chapter: Simi EA
There are many brave leaders throughout American history. Many of these men and women chose to help those who could not or did not know how to stand up for themselves. These heroes did not stand by and allow society or those in power to take advantage of them or bully the weak. A leader, who empowered the disenfranchised by teaching the importance of teamwork, cooperation, and education in the fight against bullying and unfair labor practices was a man named Cesar E. Chavez. This former Navy veteran and life long farm worker realized at an early age that the farm growers had little respect for the people who worked on their farms. Some examples include when the farm workers were forced to use dangerous pesticides, work without breaks, and receive little pay for their work. Not unlike the kids who get bullied in schools around our nation for being different, these farm workers were immigrants and different than their employers. I am inspired by Cesar Chavez because I am also against the bullying of others. I have seen people bullied at school for looking different or not speaking English very well and I am not the kind of person who stands around and watches this happen.
Cesar Chavez encouraged farm workers to rally against bullying through nonviolent methods. When he was young his mother taught him the importance of kindness and gave him a deep sense of faith. His father taught him to stand up for others and be a man of action. These lessons were important because he would experience prejudice in his childhood as well as an adult. Cesar would be picked on during school by teachers and classmates for not being able to speak English. Like Cesar, when someone would be picked on at my school for looking different I would stick up for them. He also realized as a child that he would get picked on for being poor. Cesar felt these experiences were painful but taught him how to be strong. Later on while he was in the Navy he saw prejudice against people from other countries because they spoke different languages or were of different heritages. These experiences shaped his commitment to make all people feel as if they were worthy human beings no matter what.
Cesar Chavez was influenced by the readings and peaceful philosophy of St. Frances Assisi and Mohandas Gandhi. Through the books of these men and others like them Chavez would learn the history of unions, sacrificing to help others and social change, the same values his parents taught him growing up. He organized worker strikes and nation-wide boycotts of agricultural products to shed light on the poor conditions that the workers were forced to work in. Chavez would go on to organize the National Farm Workers Association so that farm workers would have a union to fight for their rights. He also went on well publicized hunger strikes forcing the government to make laws improving the lives of farm workers.
Cesar Chavez really inspires me and I look up to him in so many ways because I’m also against the bullying of others. Cesar Chavez was so brave to stand up for those farm workers and I would have done the same. Things like teamwork, cooperation, and education are important so you aren’t bullied in life. By starting a union Cesar Chavez taught the farm workers that they are stronger as a group then they are as individuals. It is also important that kids stick together and not let bullies run the school.