Grade Level: 7-8
Student: Eric Vizcarra
Teacher: Enrique Cervantes
Chapter: Associated Calexico Teachers
Of the many strong and courageous people that have made a huge difference in this world, the legacy of Cesar Chavez has undoubtedly had the strongest impact on my life. While there are many ideologies that are synonymous with those of Cesar Chavez, there are three that are of importance that I can especially relate to. The three I share a firm belief in are; his firm belief in nonviolence, labor reform, and social justice for the equality of all laborers in the United States. More than defending equality, for farm laborers, Cesar Chavez’s dutiful work started a civil rights movement for the Hispanic community. This movement is comparable to the civil rights movement that ended segregation and also the civil rights movement of people with disabilities.
One of the greatest principles that Cesar Chavez shared was his nonviolent approach when discussing critical issues regarding farm workers. While most people carry a strong belief in violence and blanket that under the notion of self-defense, Cesar Chavez believed in peaceful demonstrations, such as hunger strikes and boycotts, actions for which he was at times incarcerated. This idea of a nonviolent approach is something I hold very dear to me because I incorporate a non-violent approach with confrontational issues in my life. I have been in some situations where an aggressor provoked me due to some miscommunication and insisted on resorting to violence. I apply this nonviolent approach to confrontational issues and I believe to this day that my decision to use this approach has been the most beneficial for me. Besides the legal consequences of violence, the moral consequences also have to be contended with. I choose morality and the common good above all.
Labor reform was nonexistent for farm workers in the 60’s. Cesar Chavez changed that through peaceful strikes, demonstrations, and discussions with decision makers. Cesar Chavez once said, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about the people.” He always maintained a firm belief that farm workers were entitled to decent wages, a safe working environment, and safe living conditions. One of the reforms was the change regarding the harmful chemicals and pesticides that were sprayed on the crops and fields where farm laborers worked. Little or no regulation meant that pesticides were freely sprayed, causing harmful health issues to farm laborers. This is incredibly important to me because I suffer from asthma so I know firsthand that most chemicals have a negative effect on me. I can’t imagine how harmful pesticides may have affected me in the 60’s if I were one of those farm laborers. I attend a school that is located in the middle of agricultural fields where I know pesticides and other chemicals are sprayed. Knowing that the work of Cesar Chavez helped to improve the safe use of chemicals and pesticides is especially important to me and others who share the same ailment.
Something important Cesar Chavez fought for was social justice and equality. His plight helped set up stern guidelines generating equality not only for farm workers but also the Hispanic community at large. Presently, I only read about these social injustices and inequalities but I know that one day I will be in the midst of all the turmoil and I will be thankful for the principles Cesar Chavez promoted. Thanks to his accomplishments, I have a reference point to look to for guidance on dealing with these social issues, and I hope that this will allow me to be able to help others like the way Cesar Chavez helped us.