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CéSar CháVez's Legacy Is a Lesson in Guidance, Leadership

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: society, safety, rights, news, law, humans, interesting, americans, culture, ethics, freedoms, business, corporate, money, labor, farming )

- 1907 days ago -
None of our great leaders suddenly appeared on the scene. They emerged because their families, friends, teachers, neighbors - and even foes - helped make them who they became. César Chávez is a good example.

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Robert Tomlinson (62)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:03 am
By James C. Harrington
Americans seem to have the idea that our great leaders have descended from heaven to be among us and guide us. It's a comforting thought, and one that relieves us of personal responsibility. And the ready-made leader was not the case with Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., or César Chávez, whose birthday we commemorate Sunday.

The problem with this narrative is that it absolves us of our duty as citizens to help mold and encourage the current and future leaders of our society. None of our great leaders suddenly appeared on the scene. They emerged because their families, friends, teachers, neighbors - and even foes - helped make them who they became.

César Chávez is a good example. After returning from the Navy, he would spend Saturdays with his friends, drinking beer and tinkering with their cars - nothing unusual. But every Saturday, veteran community organizer Fred Ross, who recognized César's potential, would drop by and tell him, "You can do better." One Saturday, César said, "Like what?" The rest is history.

The invitations from Ross, of course, did not happen in a vacuum. They played off the background of César's parents and religious upbringing. His friends, notably Dolores Huerta, later helped push him along.
César, who was born in 1927 and died in 1993, became one of the nation's pre-eminent farm labor organizers and Mexican-American leaders. He dedicated his life to improving the wages and working conditions of one of the nation's poorest and most exploited groups of workers, a large share of whom are in Texas.

Not only did César lead the historic nonviolent movement for farmworkers' rights, he also motivated thousands of others to commit themselves to social, economic and environmental justice. And he helped inspire Hispanic community leaders to throw off the shackles of discrimination.

César led the first successful farmworkers union in U.S. history and won the first industry-wide labor contracts in American agriculture.

The United Farm Workers helped hundreds of thousands of farm laborers achieve dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits and humane working conditions.

César's influence on Texans extended far beyond the thousands of Texas farm laborers who worked as migrants in California.

His efforts to open the doors of colleges and universities to the Hispanic community reached deep into Texas, and, in turn, opened doors to economic and political opportunity.

People felt the justice of his cause. More than 50,000, from all walks of life, endured the hot sun in Delano, Calif., to march in his funeral procession.

César's birthday should not be just a day on which we honor his life, but a day on which we tell his narrative and recommit ourselves to helping those around us become leaders in the struggle to make our community and our country a better place for our children and grandchildren.
Those to whom we reach out may be our kids, friends, the young person next door, student or someone we know through our work.

Whether that person becomes a future leader may depend on extending our hand to him or her, encouraging them, or perhaps just a frank person-to-person conversation. Our history will be defined by our own willingness to help shape the current generation and the one to come.

Harrington is director of the nonprofit Texas Civil Rights Project, based in Austin. He worked with César Chávez in Texas for 18 years.

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 1:27 pm

That is a fitting tribute to this fine man. I hold him in very high regard, and hope we can keep his work and his legacy alive and flourishing.

Pat B (356)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 2:35 pm
We celebrate Cesar Chavez's legacy in Texas on March 31st. This day is celebrated in 3 states: Texas, California, and Colorado. Like Kit's comment, he deserves to be remembered, and to honor this man for his nonviolent approach in helping the plight of the farm workers. “Sí, se puede:" (Yes, we can.!) Thank you, Robert for this. (and Kit for FW).

Angelika R (143)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 2:54 pm
Thanks Robert, interesting and all new to me-but what do I know about US history.. I read he was a father of 8, amazing what all he has accomplished! I wonder if this commemoration day in his honor will be acknowledged ELSEWHERE other than Texas and likely CA ?...
In this time and age you obviously have no such hero, nobody, to do his job. We can just hope and pray that unions get strenghtened and that one day the big names of farming, environment and labor rights will NOT read Monsanto and Walmart!

Barbara K (60)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 3:20 pm
Thanks for the tribute, he is a hero to the farm workers in the SW. Thanks for the forward, Kit.

Tamara Hayes (185)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 3:27 pm
It is a sad reflection on today's leaders that there is no one who can even come close to the legacy of Cesar Chavez. I do wish they would honor him across the nation. I will certainly honor him in my heart. Thank you Robert for posting this and Kit for the forward.

Yvonne White (229)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 3:52 pm
It should be recognized Nationally - too many younger people don't even know who Cesar Chavez was..:(

Mandi T (367)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 5:25 pm
Wonderful triute, great man. TY for the forward.

Ness F (211)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 6:12 pm
Thank you for the fwd Kit and Thank you Robert for posting a wonderful article

Kit B (276)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 7:15 pm

I have to say I hope Yvonne is wrong and the young people do remember him. He is an iconic figure standing for the rights of those who toil in the fields for low wages, horrible working conditions, and few if any that care about their plight in this world.

Lynn D (0)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 7:36 pm
Thank you!

Yvonne White (229)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:48 pm
As Gran Pat said "This day is celebrated in 3 states: Texas, California, and Colorado. "..That's it.The 47 other states may or may not mention him in their history or social studies books. I remember hearing about him on TV & in one of my school classes (can't remember though, which class, or if it was Jr. High or High School).

Laurie H (817)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 8:57 pm
Thank you Kit for sending and Robert for this fine posting and tribute to a very fine human being!!~~

Esther Z (94)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 9:44 pm
Mr. Chavez left an enduring legacy, but still, to this day I've gotten petitions from the UFW regarding safety violations resulting in the death of a migrant worker. Adding insult to injury, even Jerry Brown, current Governor of California and a liberal darling, vetoed The Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act and The Farm Worker Safety Act, legislation introduced late in 2012. Both bills were heavily lobbied by UFW and other migrant worker supporters, and apparently it was all in vain. Mr. Chavez left an enduring legacy that, unfortunately, seems no one else is willing to carry on.

Fiona Ogilvie (565)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:02 pm
Wonderful tribute, Miss Kitty. I think Monday will be quite a grand fiesta in my part of the Arizona desert, and appropriately so.

Giana Peranio-paz (398)
Saturday March 30, 2013, 10:30 pm
Thanks Robert. These are very special people with a very special calling. They have the character suitable for doing great things, they were born with it!

Craig Pittman (52)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 1:42 am
He was highly respected here in Canada as well both for is tireless work for the disadvantaged migrant workers and for his integrity. Would that there were more people of his caliber in politics. He was a true leader, a leader who actually worked for and with the people. He will be greatly missed.

pam w (139)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 7:04 am
Something nobody has mentioned yet is his genuine talent for creating and using an image. It worked and he accomplished a great deal through non-violent methods.

Lynn C (94)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:01 am

. (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:09 am
Great article. Thanks for sharing. He should be remembered.

Abdessalam Diab (145)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:30 am
A very enlightening article. Thanks Robert for the post. Thanks Kit for the forward.

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 10:20 am
Widely celebrated or not, CeSar Chavez was a true hero - and as long as one person remembers his contributions, he will be honored. Great article, Robert - thank you!

Ro H (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 10:27 am

. (0)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 2:18 pm
He deserves to be remembered. I guess Google thought so too.

lee e (114)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 6:23 pm
I hope there is much more recognition of this remarkable man- and now in the US - since our government is being overthrown by the oligarchy - we need more of these men to stand up to our oppressors!

lee e (114)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 6:24 pm
oops - didn't I include Women - what's wrong with me?!

Joanne Dixon (38)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 7:50 pm
As Hugh noticed, the Google doodle was beautiful. I hope it was visible in more states than three! But I am proud that Colorado was one of the three. I don't always have a lot to be proud of Colorado for so this was a nice change.

Sheryl G (360)
Sunday March 31, 2013, 8:32 pm
Google doodle also shown in Florida and I thank you Robert for also placing this on here. He certainly deserves to be remembered and recognized. It is people like this man that should be taught in school, but as minority studies are being done away with, fat chance anymore. Gee I wonder why, keep them blinded to the Truth and no one is set free.

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday April 3, 2013, 11:17 am
Noted. Thanks, Robert...and Kit for the link. There were celebrations around AZ as well. Back in the 60's, I remember my mom coming home from buying groceries one day and making a point of telling us youngsters that she didn't buy any grapes and we would be doing without them for awhile....during the grape boycott. Her respect for Chavez and the movement was well noted by myself as she explained why the boycott was occurring. We must all make sure our children learn about Chavez and other heroes like him.
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