Cesar Chavez

Born: March 31, 1927

Die: April 23, 1993

Occupation: Civil rights activist

Quotes of Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez

When the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering, and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick.

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Cesar Chavez

The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.

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Cesar Chavez

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...

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Cesar Chavez

You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.

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Cesar Chavez

Every time we sit at a table at night or in the morning to enjoy the fruits and grain and vegetables from our good earth, remember that they come from the work of men and women and children who have been...

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Cesar Chavez

True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.

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Cesar Chavez

If you win non-violently, then you have a double victory, you have not only won your fight, but you remain free.

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Cesar Chavez

The consumer boycott is the only open door in the dark corridor of nothingness down which farm workers have had to walk for many years. It is a gate of hope through which they expect to find the sunlight...

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Cesar Chavez

Society is made up of groups, and as long as the smaller groups do not have the same rights and the same protection as others - I don['t care whether you call it capitalism or communism -it is not going...

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Cesar Chavez

The people united will never be defeated.

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Cesar Chavez

Nonviolence is really tough. You don't practice nonviolence at conferences; you practice it on picket-lines.

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Cesar Chavez

The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.

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Cesar Chavez

You know, if people are not pacifists, it's not their fault. It's because society puts them in that spot. You've got to change it. You don't just change a man - you've got to change his environment as...

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Cesar Chavez

Through Gandhi and my own life experience, I have learned about nonviolence. I believe that human life is a very special gift from God, and that no one has a right to take that away in any cause, however...

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Cesar Chavez

Non-violence exacts a very high price from one who practices it. But once you are able to meet that demand then you can do most things.

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Cesar Chavez

Non-violence is a very powerful weapon. Most people don't understand the power of non-violence and tend to be amazed by the whole idea. Those who have been involved in bringing about change and see the...

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Cesar Chavez

Violence just hurts those who are already hurt...Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it.

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Cesar Chavez

We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence. We are convinced that non-violence supports you if you have a just and moral cause...If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself...

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Cesar Chavez

If you're outraged at conditions, then you can't possibly be free or happy until you devote all your time to changing them and do nothing but that. But you can't change anything if you want to hold onto...

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Cesar Chavez

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes...

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Cesar Chavez

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart.

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Cesar Chavez

It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the...

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Cesar Chavez

Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.

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Cesar Chavez

Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves - and be free.

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Cesar Chavez

We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.

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Cesar Chavez

The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.

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Cesar Chavez

We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation.

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Cesar Chavez

Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.

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Cesar Chavez

Who gets the risks? The risks are given to the consumer, the unsuspecting consumer and the poor work force. And who gets the benefits? The benefits are only for the corporations, for the money makers.

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Cesar Chavez

Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?

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Cesar Chavez

There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence.

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Cesar Chavez

When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines the kind of men we are.

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Cesar Chavez

From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.

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Cesar Chavez

In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence.

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Cesar Chavez

There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.

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Cesar Chavez

You are never strong enough that you don't need help.

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Cesar Chavez

The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature.

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Cesar Chavez

Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work.

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Cesar Chavez

Never, never is it possible to reach someone if you become angry or bitter only love and gentleness can do it. Maybe not this time but maybe the next or the hundredth time.

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Cesar Chavez

You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.

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Cesar Chavez

When you sacrifice, you force others to sacrifice. It's an extremely powerful weapon.

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Cesar Chavez

Perhaps we can bring the day when children will learn from their earliest days that being fully man and fully woman means to give one's life to the liberation of the brother [and sister] who suffers. It...

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Cesar Chavez

It's amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share...

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Cesar Chavez

It's ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.

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Cesar Chavez

If you give yourself totally to the nonviolence struggle for peace and justice you also find that people give you their hearts and you will never go hungry and never be alone.

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Cesar Chavez

I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God...

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Cesar Chavez

The people who give you their food give you their heart.

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Cesar Chavez

We have seen the future, and the future is ours.

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Cesar Chavez

Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of...

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Cesar Chavez

Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others.

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Cesar Chavez

I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question...

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Cesar Chavez

We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves.

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Cesar Chavez

We know we cannot be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them -- exploiting animals in the name of science, exploiting animals in the name of sport, exploiting animals in the name of fashion, and...

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Cesar Chavez

Because we have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything - even our lives - in our struggle for justice.

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Cesar Chavez

When a man or woman, young, or old, takes a place on the picket line for even a day or two, he will never be the same again.

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Cesar Chavez

It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.

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Cesar Chavez

Grant me courage to serve others; For in service there is true life.

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Cesar Chavez

...there has to be someone who is willing to do it, who is willing to take whatever risks are required. I don't think it can be done with money alone. The person has to be dedicated to the task. There...

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Cesar Chavez

Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people. When you do, you can demand their commitment in return.

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Cesar Chavez

Self dedication is a spiritual experience.

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Cesar Chavez

The name of the game is to talk to people. If you don't talk to people, you can't get started...You knock on twenty doors or so, and twenty guys tell you to go to hell, or that they haven't got time. But...

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Cesar Chavez

There are vivid memories from my childhood-what we had to go through because of low wages and the conditions, basically because there was no union. I suppose if I wanted to be fair I could say that I'm...

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Cesar Chavez

There's no turning back...We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart...

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Cesar Chavez

We must understand that the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline.

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Cesar Chavez

I remember with strong feelings the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. Sometimes, fathers and mothers would take money out of their meager...

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Cesar Chavez

The picket line is the best place to train organizers. One day on the picket line is where a man makes his commitment. The longer on the picket line, the stronger the commitment. A lot of workers think...

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Cesar Chavez

In this world it is possible to achieve great material wealth, to live an opulent life. But a life built upon those things alone leaves a shallow legacy. In the end, we will be judged by other standards.

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Cesar Chavez

When you have people together who believe in something very strongly - whether it's religion or politics or unions - things happen.

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Cesar Chavez

A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride...When people see it they know it means dignity.

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Cesar Chavez

Do not romanticize the poor...We are all people, human beings subject to the same temptations and faults as all others. Our poverty damages our dignity.

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Cesar Chavez

What is at stake is human dignity. If a man is not accorded respect he cannot respect himself and if he does not respect himself, he cannot demand it.

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Cesar Chavez

The strike and the boycott, they have cost us much. What they have not paid us in wages, better working conditions, and new contracts, they have paid us in self-respect and human dignity.

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Cesar Chavez

The end of all knowledge must be the building up of character.

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Cesar Chavez

Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment.

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Cesar Chavez

(Farm workers) are involved in the planting and the cultivation and the harvesting of the greatest abundance of food known in this society. They bring in so much food to feed you and me and the whole country...

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Cesar Chavez

I have met many, many farm workers and friends who love justice and who are willing to sacrifice for what is right. They have a quality about them that reminds me of the beatitudes. They are living examples...

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Cesar Chavez

Our very lives are dependent, for sustenance, on the sweat and sacrifice of the campesinos. Children of farm workers should be as proud of their parents' professions as other children are of theirs.

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Cesar Chavez

Our conviction is that human life and limb are a very special possession given by God to man and that no one has the right to take that away, in any cause, however just...

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Cesar Chavez

We are certain God's will is that all men share in the good things this earth produces.

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Cesar Chavez

People who have lost their hunger for justice are not ultimately powerful. They are like sick people who have lost their appetite for what is truly nourishing. Such sick people should not frighten or discourage...

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Cesar Chavez

There is a great fear of our Union - a fear that I do not fully understand, but that I know is present...What is it that causes some men to act so hastily and so cruelly? It cannot be that we are so powerful....

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Cesar Chavez

We are confident. We have ourselves. We know how to sacrifice. We know how to work. We know how to combat the forces that oppose us. But even more than that, we are true believers in the whole idea of...

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Cesar Chavez

We shall strike. We shall organize boycotts. We shall demonstrate and have political campaigns. We shall pursue the revolution we have proposed. We are sons and daughters of the farm workers' revolution,...

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Cesar Chavez

In the no-nonsense school of adversity, which we did not choose for ourselves, we are learning how to operate a labor union.

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Cesar Chavez

The road to social justice for the farm worker is the road of unionization. Our cause, our strike against table grapes and our international boycott are all founded upon our deep conviction that the form...

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Cesar Chavez

We know what unions have done for other people. We have seen it and we have studied and we have cherished the idea of unionism. We have seen the history and development of unions in this country and we...

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Cesar Chavez

...So they are trying to do something about it. They are not doing it by seeking charity. They are not begging at the welfare office. They are not, like many of their employers, lobbying the halls of Congress...

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Cesar Chavez

I am an organizer, not a union leader. A good organizer has to work hard and long. There are no shortcuts. You just keep talking to people, working with them, sharing, exchanging and they come along.

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Cesar Chavez

I'm not going to ask for anything unless the workers want it. If they want it, they'll ask for it.

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Cesar Chavez

There are many reasons for why a man does what de does. To be himself he must be able to give it all. If a leader cannot give it all he cannot expect his people to give anything.

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Cesar Chavez

These observations tie in directly with the whole question of organizing. Why do we have leaders? We put some people out in the fields and all of a sudden they hit, they click. Everyone's happy with them...

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Cesar Chavez

In non-violence the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means.

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Cesar Chavez

The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.

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Cesar Chavez

There's no reason to be non-violent. There's no challenge unless you are living for people.

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Cesar Chavez

...people think non-violence is really weak and non-militant. These are misconceptions that people have because they don't understand what non-violence means. Non-violence takes more guts, if I can put...

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Cesar Chavez

Farm workers everywhere are angry and worried that we cannot win without violence. We have proved it before through persistence, hard work, faith and willingness to sacrifice. We can win and keep our own...

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Cesar Chavez

Imagine the National Guard being called against a group of peaceful people. How far can we get; how disgraceful can it become? It's the most disgraceful, the most wicked thing I've seen in all my years...

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Cesar Chavez

Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization.

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Cesar Chavez

Non-violence has suffered its biggest defeat in the hands of people who most want to talk about it.

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Cesar Chavez

Non-violence is very weak in the theoretical sense; it cannot defend itself. But it is most powerful in the action situation where people are using non-violence because they want desperately to bring about...

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Cesar Chavez

When workers fall back on violence, they are lost. Oh, they might win some of their demands and might end a strike a little earlier, but they give up their imagination, their creativity, their will to...

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Cesar Chavez

...many have the idea that organizing people is very difficult, but it isn't. It becomes difficult only at the point where you begin to see other things that are easier. But if you are willing to give...

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Cesar Chavez

I think one of the great, great problems...is confusing people to the point where they become immobile. In fact, the more things people can find out for themselves, the more vigor the organization is going...

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Cesar Chavez

If they had $2.00 for food, they had to give $1.00 to the union. Otherwise, they would never get out of the trap of poverty. They would never have a union because they couldn't afford to sacrifice a little...

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Cesar Chavez

Money is not going to organize the disadvantaged, the powerless, or the poor. We need other weapons. That's why the War on Poverty is such a miserable failure. You put out a big pot of money and all you...

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Cesar Chavez

Organizing is an educational process. The best educational process in the union is the picket line and the boycott. You learn about life.

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Cesar Chavez

"The life of the union depends upon more people getting to share the limelight, because with the limelight also comes responsibility and with the responsibility comes a little sharing of the load." "There...

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Cesar Chavez

We are organizers at heart. Most of us in the movement take great pride in being able to put things together.

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Cesar Chavez

We're going to pray a lot and picket a lot.

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Cesar Chavez

I've always maintained that it isn't the form that's going to make the difference. It isn't the rule or the procedure or the ideology, but it's human beings that will make it.

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Cesar Chavez

In the final analysis it doesn't really matter what the political system is...We don't need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.

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Cesar Chavez

It is not good enough to know why we are oppressed and by whom. We must join the struggle for what is right and just. Jesus does not promise that it will be an easy way to live life and His own life certainly...

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Cesar Chavez

Jesus' life and words are a challenge at the same time that they are Good News. They are a challenge to those of us who are poor and oppressed. By His life He is calling us to give ourselves to others,...

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Cesar Chavez

Talk is cheap...It is the way we organize and use our lives everyday that tells what we believe in.

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Cesar Chavez

Until the chance for political participation is there, we who are poor will continue to attack the soft part of the American system - its economic structure. We will build power through boycotts, strikes,...

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Cesar Chavez

Those who are willing to sacrifice and be of service have very little difficulty with people. They know what they are all about. People can't help but want to be near them. They help them; they work with...

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Cesar Chavez

it is clearly evident that our path travels through a valley of teas well known to all farm workers, because in all valleys the way of the farm worker has bene one of sacrifice for generations. Our sweat...

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Cesar Chavez

It takes a lot of punishment to be able to do anything to change the social order.

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Cesar Chavez

The poor, you know, have a way of solving problems...they have a tremendous capacity for suffering. And so when you build a vehicle to get something done, as we've done here in the strike and the boycott,...

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Cesar Chavez

The thing that we have going for us is that people are willing to sacrifice themselves.

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Cesar Chavez

We are suffering. We have suffered. And we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause.

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Cesar Chavez

We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children. People who make that choice will know hardship and sacrifice. But if you give yourself totally to...

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Cesar Chavez

We'll organize workers in this movement as long as we're willing to sacrifice. The moment we stop sacrificing, we stop organizing.

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Cesar Chavez

When any person suffers for someone in greater need, that person is a human.

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Cesar Chavez

We have suffered unnumbered ills and crimes in the name of the Law of the Land. Our men, women and children have suffered not only the basic brutality of stoop labor, and the most obvious injustices of...

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Cesar Chavez

A movement with some lasting organization is a lot less dramatic than a movement with a lot of demonstrations and a lot of marching and so forth. The more dramatic organization does catch attention quicker....

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Cesar Chavez

Across the San Joaquin valley, across California, across the entire nation, wherever there are injustices against men and women and children who work in the fields - there you will see our flags - with...

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Cesar Chavez

There is enough love and good will in our movement to give energy to our struggle and still have plenty left over to break down and change the climate of hate and fear around us.

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Cesar Chavez

This is the beginning of a social movement in fact and not in pronouncements. We seek our basic, God - given rights as human beings...We shall do it without violence because it is our destiny. To the growers...

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Cesar Chavez

We are tired of words, of betrayals, of indifference...they years are gone when the farm worker said nothing an did nothing to help himself...Now we have new faith. Through our strong will, our movement...

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Cesar Chavez

We do not need to kill or destroy to win. We are a movement that builds and not destroys.

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Cesar Chavez

...the workers aren't going to stop struggling. They're going to struggle to have a union and they have the right to have it. The police repression and the grower indifference to the workers' demands for...

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Cesar Chavez

However important the struggle is and however much misery and poverty and degradation exist, we know that it cannot be more important than one human life.

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Cesar Chavez

Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are rich and powerful and they have many allies in high places. We are poor. Our allies are few. But we have something the rich do not own. We have...

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Cesar Chavez

Our union represents a breaking away...represents sharing a power, represent questioning, represents a new force...however long it takes, we are geared for a struggle.

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Cesar Chavez

When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us, so it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that...

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Cesar Chavez

In 1968, I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry, and unhappy like we do..

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Cesar Chavez

If you are interested in preventing animal suffering, the first thing you should give up is eggs and milk because the animals who produce those foods lead the most unhappy lives. You would do better to...

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Cesar Chavez

Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid...

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Cesar Chavez

To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence.

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Cesar Chavez

Concentration is inspiration. You must be completely overtaken by your work and your subject. Only then do all your influences and experience come up to the surface.

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Cesar Chavez

Kindness and compassion toward all living things is the mark of a civilized society.

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss