To access members-only content on cta.org, please sign in below. Register Now

Remember me

Grade Level: 9-12
Region: 3
Student: Sophia Benavides
Teacher: Diane Shires
Chapter: TA of South Pasadena


Following Cesar Chavez’s Legacy


Empowerment: the giving or delegation of power or authority; Disenfranchised: to deny someone a privilege or right. Separate, these words are simply that- words that hold no real meaning or importance. Together, however, they have the power to define the legacy of one brilliant man- Cesar Estrada Chavez. This man, this miracle given to the people without voices, dedicated his life to the fight for equal rights of the disenfranchised, grappling for equality for his hardworking peers. “We don’t know how God chooses martyrs. We do know that they give us the most precious gift they possess – their very lives.” This quote describes the very essence of Chavez’s life battles, his constant commitments to his cause, and the sacrifices he made for the sake of those who fought for and with him. Chavez will forever remain a legacy in American and Hispanic cultures, and although I do not fight on a national level, I join Chavez’s everlasting cause for the empowerment of the disenfranchised by volunteering at the Pasadena Union Station Homeless Shelter, giving back to my community and those who are vulnerable to the subjectivity of our imperfect world.

Chavez once said, “History will judge societies and governments- and their institutions- not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless.” Chavez knew that the true value of accomplishments come from helping those who are less fortunate and suppressed, and not by a competition of what is bigger, better, or newer. Throughout his life, Chavez integrated the meaning of this quote and the power of action to liberate the immigration victims of racial and economic discrimination in places like Arizona and California. Chavez was recruited by his local Community Service Organization to inform the farmers of their rights that were being hidden from them, and Chavez’s fire for civil rights was a flame. Resembling Chavez’s fight for the rights of farm workers, today President Barack Obama fights for those not able to afford medical care. Obama fought against the unpopularity of the bill dubbed “Obamacare” and put his best into passing it into law. Under Obamacare, every American will be provided with free coverage for medical attention and insurances will be obligated to help every patient-including patients with pre-existing conditions. Now, as a result of President Obama’s effort for the disenfranchised, Obamacare waits to be successfully integrated into society, where many people will benefit from free healthcare and fair treatment.

South Pasadena High School is also working hard to follow Chavez’s belief in the equal rights of the disenfranchised. Here at our high school, there are many clubs like Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, and the club my friends and I created, Hope for Haiti, that works together in order to help third world countries in need. These clubs carry on Chavez’s legacy through their active commitments to their missions and aspiration to help the people of the world. As one of the leaders of these clubs, we hope to do our part in assisting the suffering countries and helping people in need by raising and sending funds, personally making and shipping friendship bracelets, and exporting necessary materials. Like Chavez, we dedicate much of our time organizing fundraisers and raising awareness for the disenfranchised, our care for others leading the clubs at just one of the many high schools around the world.

Along with running a club at my high school, I also volunteer my time at the Pasadena Union Station Homeless Shelter where volunteers work to feed and house the homeless of the surrounding area. I have contributed in making the hearty breakfast and lunch for the homeless, helping personally to serve the food out and greet those less fortunate. This experience, so much like Chavez’s legacy of helping others, has been one of the many etched lines that have defined me as a person over the years. What once started as a simple volunteering assignment blossomed into a desire to help others and know that I am making a difference in my community and for those who need assistance.

Empowerment of the disenfranchised was a major part of Cesar Chavez’s legacy as he fought for the civil rights of the arduous laborers of farms and those who were unfairly treated and kept in the shadow of their lawful rights as workers of America. My high school community and I personally have committed to Chavez’s cause to help those in need. By running clubs that donate and raise awareness to volunteering at a Union Station as an activist for change and help for the homeless, I believe that the world must unite together under Chavez’s everlasting movement to help those who are less fortunate and need our aid to better this world we share.

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

© 1999- California Teachers Association