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Cesar Chavez was a man of the earth. He and his family worked the soil as farmers. Cesar's father worked hard to clear eighty acres of land and in exchange he would receive the deed to forty acres of land that adjoined the home. But it was taken from his by crooked business people. 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.
Chavez blended love of people with love of natural dignity. He spend his life working for the people who work the land.
In 1962 Cesar founded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers the UFW. He was joined by Dolores Huerta and the union was born. That same year Richard Chavez designed the UFW Eagle and Cesar chose the black and red colors. Cesar told the story of the birth of the eagle. He asked Richard to design the flag, but Richard could not make an eagle that he liked. Finally he sketched one on a piece of brown wrapping paper. He then squared off the wing edges so that the eagle would be easier for union members to draw on the handmade red flags that would give courage to the farm workers with their own powerful symbol. Cesar made reference to the flag by stating, "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."
Cesar was willing to sacrifice his own life so that the union would continue and that violence was not used. Cesar fasted many times. In 1968 Cesar went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days. What motivated him to do this? He said, 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 self respect and build a great union that will secure the spirit of all people if we do it through a rededication and recommitment to the struggle for justice through nonviolence.
Protecting nature also means protecting people -- those most vulnerable under the wheels of progress. People and nature are inseparable.
I just received this political message from Cesar's widow...about his granddaughter. He made a difference!
A Message from Helen Chavez
June 2, 2006
From the time we were first married in the late 1940s, Cesar would come home from the fields after a hard day working for little, or after some injustice and say, "Someone has to do something. I don't want my kids to have to go through what I'm going through."
Later, he asked me if I thought he could organize farm workers and would I support him if he tried. I told him I had a lot of faith in him and I knew he could do it.
I feel the same way about my granddaughter Christine Chavez.
She is also trying something new. She is the first in our family to run for office.
I don't know much about politics. I left those things to Cesar. But I know my granddaughter and where she comes from. She has the same dedication in her heart I first saw in Cesar so long ago. She has the same desire in her to help the people who need it most.
I have a lot of faith in Christine. I hope you will give her your support.
"We don't need perfect political systems, we need perfect participation." --Cesar E. Chavez.
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