Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cesar Chavez Day - March 31st

I had heard this name before, but knew very little about the man. So, I Google'd him. I figure, since I get a paid day off from my non-laborious work because of him (and will spend it doing something I have dreamed about for years - future blog entry tease!!) that I should learn something about Cesar Chavez.

Here is an informative blurb:

Senator Robert F. Kennedy noted, Cesar Chavez was "one of the heroic figures of our time." A true American hero, Cesar Chavez was a civil rights, Latino, farm worker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate.

For more than three decades Cesar led the first successful farm workers union in American history, achieving dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and humane living conditions, as well as countless other rights and protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers. Against previously insurmountable odds, he led successful strikes and boycotts that resulted in the first industry-wide labor contracts in the history of American agriculture. His union's efforts brought about the passage of the groundbreaking 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farm workers. Today, it remains the only law in the nation that protects the farm workers' right to unionize.

A strong believer in the principles of nonviolence practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar effectively employed peaceful tactics such as fasts, boycotts, strikes, and pilgrimages. In 1968 he fasted for 25 days to affirm his personal commitment and that of the farm labor movement to non-violence. He fasted again for 25 days in 1972, and in 1988, at the age of 61, he endured a 36-day "Fast for Life" to highlight the harmful impact of pesticides on farm workers and their children.

Cesar's life cannot be measured in material terms. He never earned more than $6,000 a year. He never owned a house. When Cesar passed, he had no savings to leave to his family.

"If you think you have it tough, read history books."
- Bill Maher

No comments: