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Grade Level: 9-12
Region: 3
Student: Brayham Santos
Teacher: Jeanne Brostrom
Chapter: Baldwin Park EA


César Chávez


Big things have small beginnings; all professionals were once beginners. There is an origin to everything. Some may need a sign to realize what they are capable of; others just have that “it” factor that guides them as if it were an instinct. Today, the common man is now suitable to rise up and have a voice in this country. However, in the early 1900’s, this was not the way it was for Hispanics and Latinos who worked on the holy fields that fed and fattened the stomachs of the shameless. These people had no rights, low paying wages, and suffered not only broken backs, but broken spirits. It took a courageous man to light the fire that had gone out in them, and that man was César Chávez. Chávez revolutionized the state of mind that the United States had adapted towards migrant workers. He brought the struggles and iniquitous practices that were applied to the farm workers up to the surface for the American eye to see. He did not only join unions, but created his own, calling it the United Farm Workers. Through his union, he was able to coalescence many Hispanics and Latinos in a brotherly way, which led to the success of changing working conditions as well as receiving higher wages and finally achieving social justice.

Chávez dedicated his whole life to spring up awareness of the foul treatment of farm workers. His supporters had nothing more than basic needs, which were achieved through harsh and acrid labor. My mother also looked straight into the face of struggle when she arrived in the United States. She sacrificed the time that she could’ve spent with her young children – my younger brother and me – in order to construct a more sophisticated and superior future for them. Upon arriving, she had nearly nothing but herself and the goodwill of God to light her path in this unfamiliar ground. She eventually came in contact with several family friends who took her into their home. My mother worked her hands to the bone and invested most of her money into food and clothing that we were in need of back in Mexico. She would often feel enervated and disconsolate, but she knew that she had a fulfilling responsibility to aid her children, just as Chávez perceived that he had to speak out for the farm workers and additionally encourage then to epitomize themselves.

His union was a very crucial factor that contributed to representing Hispanics and Latinos all over the country. His hard work and dedication eventually made headway after many years of fighting against social injustice. Teamwork in a union is very essential. A team cannot and will not function if there is a divergent distribution of the tasks and duties that it must meet. Being a part of the Baldwin Park Wrestling Team, I know firsthand the time, commitment, and sacrifice that one must make to achieve greatness. Although the sport involves individual scoring, the ultimate goal is to accumulate points to win as a team. It takes every single individual to do his/her part in order for the team to be triumphant. This is the point that César Chávez wanted the United Farm Workers union to comprehend. He knew that they would only be as strong as their weakest link, so he ensured that the people knew exactly what they deserved for their arduous and laborious tasks in the field, and also, how to confront the abuses that they faced. Majorly influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Chávez is known for the peaceful protests that he directed. The five-year boycott on grapes clearly shows how dynamic teamwork can be. By refusing to buy the grapes, the workers eventually forced the grape producers to sign contracts demanding significant aids, including medical benefits, higher wages, and better working conditions. Just as Chávez knew what they were capable of, I know that my team is capable to withstand any challenge with encouragement, brotherhood, and courage.

César Chávez’s work truly shows that the “pursuit of happiness” is attainable for anyone who is willing to take a risk and speak up not only for themselves, but for others as well, just as it was for my mother and the rest of my family. Chávez’s vision took many years to become a reality; it took several years for my mother’s vision to come alive. She was eventually able to bring my brother and me to this country so that we may acquire better education and a more luminous future that she always dreamed for us. Chávez not only aided Hispanics and Latinos; he gave them, as well as people all over the country, that burning desire to want to change things not only for themselves, but for the benefit of humanity. The sacrifice and determination that the union complied with emerged and demonstrated to Americans that they could indeed overthrow oppression, just as my team and I take the time and devotion that is paramount to achieve a higher level of accomplishment. Believing in oneself and taking a risk is the key to eminence.

Every child deserves a chance to learn and no child succeeds alone.

© 1999- California Teachers Association