Friday, March 30, 2007

Happy Birthday, Senor 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. Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez was a true revolutionary for the poor, the laborers, the hidden backbone of our country. He fought for the families who pick our grapes, our berries. The invisibles who provide bounty for our produce sections, our silent green thumbs. He brought folks together and lifted them up, and he did it with passion, intensity, and respect.

I've had the honor of knowing many migrant farmworker families over the years. I can honestly say I've never met more hardworking people. Families that rise before the sun and return after dark, hands calloused and dirty, nails never quite clean. I've eaten some of the best tamales in my life with these families, they never fail to share their food, no matter how little they have. These men and women who love their children fiercely, who want nothing more than a better life for them than they have lived.

Happy Birthday, Senor Chavez. We remember you and your powerful words:

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

"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 justice. Justice is so much on our side, that that is going to see us through."

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.

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.

A teacher, a mobilizer, an organizer, a leader. Your spirit lives on.


Jocelyn said...

I love that quote about the fight never being about grapes or lettuce. Activists who fight to change the world are absolutely the true heroes.


QT said...

A man who accomplished what so many told him could never be done. We actually have a brand new elementary school in Madison named after him.

"¡Sí se puede!"

NotSoSage said...


Blog Antagonist said...

It's very easy to overlook those people when our food comes clean and prettily packaged from a cheery well-lit grocery store. We need more people like Mr. Chavez to make the world stand up and take notice.

Happy Birthday indeed.

Lucia said...

OK, I've celebrated Sr. Chavez enough in serious ways. Today I'm pulling out the birthday blowers and marching 'round the house.

Supe said...

The lettuce quote.. beautiful.

slouching mom said...

the whole community of man is sick...

Yes, it is.

Thailand Gal said...

The quotes you chose are great! We've been getting some decent coverage about him today on local news stations. Apparently, the students at several high schools ditched school to march to the capitol. They want to see a Cesar Chavez Day.. much along the same lines as MLK Day.



flutter said...

he was quite the man. I had no idea I shared his birthday

Andrea said...

"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."

I'm tattooing this one on my forehead.

KC said...

This is you, too.