Grade Level: 9-12
Student: Joanne Belle Ibañez Chua
Teacher: Arthur Eddy
Chapter: Baldwin Park EA
People change history every day. Some changes are more prominent, but we can feel the resonance of the legacies that those people left. Many look up to these people and admire them. However, there is one person that struck the hearts of many and left an impact on our society/economy. This person was neither rich nor well-educated to the point that if he was born in today’s society, he might be looked down upon. This person was César Estrada Chávez, whose work in life has affected people on the other side of the earth. During his lifetime, many people thought of just getting through their days. They worked and toiled in their jobs, hard-pressed just to survive. But Chávez was able to see a bigger picture, something that included every man, woman and child. He saw a society that must be improved and, despite having faced opponents that were larger and more terrifying, took the stand to do something about it. With unions, teamwork, and a sense of equality and tranquility, he fought for justice for all peoples. His justice was not “blind”, but something that helped shape our country today.
When César Chávez was born, he did not just materialize from the sky as some mighty being and waltz in with a perfect life. He had his own problems as well. Concerned more with his family’s farm than education, he only graduated eighth grade. In fact, he did not like his schooling very much. But in his later years, he had realized the importance of having a good education and urged many to not follow what he did. Knowing society, the government, and discovering what you believe in is part of education. Learning things new to you and using your skills – whether it be math, art or others – to help those in need is something that everyone should learn with the help of a good mentor. In my case, I know that education will help me unearth my potential.
Chávez is well known for his impact on helping bring social justice to the backbone of this country. Farm workers and those of “minor ethnicities” everywhere were undermined, swindled by those higher on the social ladder, and deprived of many basic rights. He represented the disenfranchised, and knew how it felt not to have a voice in the very homeland he lived in. However, by protesting and joining/creating unions, he helped give people a chance to better their lives. Today, immigrants and natives alike are inspired by him. I see people everyday working so hard in jobs that, if not for Chávez, would be paying below minimum wage. He was able to show how jobs, such as farm work, were massively important to society and should not be overlooked. After all, jobs are like a network of nerves that help other fields and people – such as how the criminal force works both with the medical and law field and how farming is linked to big-name food enterprises.
With the union’s help, he improved numerous jobs either directly or indirectly. A union, to me, is like a choir. It has all sorts of voices and opinions but only one goal: to achieve harmony. In school, unions are like clubs. Right now, I am in a club that promotes global awareness. We all have different views on it, but we all still want to help out. Without the cooperation of everyone in the club, everything would fall apart, just like a union would. Because there were people who wanted a better life, Chávez organized the United Farm Workers of America. He united many people to sing the same song. The union helped to create fair wages, good working conditions, medical benefits, and more. This in turn empowered the term of “America is the Land of Opportunity”. If not for Chávez and the unions, many families, including mine, would not have moved to America and would still be struggling.
Some people say that for others to realize things, they usually need a good “slap in the face”. Chávez took the opposite route. For centuries, nations have been solving problems through violence, because in the end, many problems often resort to that. But with César Chávez, his words alone were the only artillery he needed. His army was composed of the teamwork of others who were lured by his passion for equality. He showed the world that it isn’t needed to bring out the big guns. His methods of protesting, rallying, boycotting and fasting were enough alone to change a country. If we try to sort problems out non-violently, we could see things from a whole different view. In the year 2008, we saw the impact of gay marriage among America’s citizens; their protest changed minds around the world and sparked others to stray out of their boundaries. Words, after all, can be more effective than bullets. Behind a podium with a speaker, his voice, and the will of many people, César Chávez was a force to be reckoned with.
Alone, Chávez could not have done everything. Cooperation, teamwork, collaboration and service to others – with these, Chávez gave people another chance. Dedicated to the people, he said this, “Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people.” I have a brother-in-law who follows by this. He runs a business that cares for the elderly. In his homeland, the elderly are often taken care of by their families, but in America, it is much more difficult because so many people are more focused on pursuing their own dreams. Even though his co-workers have problems, they still try to work together and stick to the mission of caring for these people. They want to make the community aware. They try to spread the compassion of caring for these people because it is not enough to just care for them, but to be like a personal friend to them. Without compassion, they cannot do their job properly. Without compassion, Chávez could not have made his community aware of the social injustice. Without personal touch, the business and the union would have fallen.
César E. Chávez has inspired generations of people to work for what they believe in. More people now are speaking up to be heard. For many, he was the epitome of the common man because he represented many problems in society and tried to fight them. But what really strikes through the heart of people was that he was just the average man – nothing more and nothing less. And yet he will be remembered in the minds of many.