11 May 2016 Si, se puede: The story of a farmer named Cesar
Mexican-American Cesar Chavez was a prominent figure during the civil rights era. Experiencing the harsh environment as a migrant worker, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 where he fought for the rights of migrant workers. His union soon joined with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in its first strike against grape growers in California, and later on the two organizations had merged and become the United Farm Workers. Stressing nonviolent methods influenced by political leaders such as Gandhi, Chavez drew attention for his causes through marches, boycotts, …show more content…
A small group of Filipino farm workers, associated with the American Federation of Labor’s stressed Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, went on a strike when the Delano grape growers pay cut rates during the harvest. Chavez had persuaded his own union’s members to support the strike. Soon the two groups combined and the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). The troubles of migrant farm workers had entered public awareness right after Thanksgiving in 1960, when documentary, “Harvest of Shame,” was shown on CBS. For the next ten years, Chavez used a two sided approach to build the UFW since the food was perishable and had to be farmed quickly. The UFW then used non- violent strikes to disrupt the harvest and put stress on the growers. Chavez, however, realized that growers could rely on an almost limitless supply of migrant workers— who were recruited as strikebreakers. The second strategy for Chavez was to win the support of the public, by asking them to participate in non- violence protest such as boycotting grapes, wine, and lettuce until particular growers agreed to a contract. Chavez called on partners in the movement, which integrated religious congregations and on college campuses to help boycott by rallying outside grocery stores and educating customers. At its max, 13 million plus Americans supported the grape boycott. To keep their name in the public eye and to raise the farm workers’ morale during these difficult …show more content…
As local police and thugs started attacking with violence against the union members, some of them justifiably wanted to strike back. Chavez was influenced by Gandhi’s thoughts of peace and non- violence and kept going forward without violence. When it surfaced that union members might be responding to violence with violence, Chavez sought to reclaim the calm and discipline by engaging in a hunger strike. Chavez’s fasts drew attention in the media which caught the public’s eye and helped strengthen public compassion for the strike and for the boycott. Chavez and the UFW also gained attention was by attracting the support of high-profile politicians. “When the local sheriff told Kennedy that his deputies arrested strikers who looked “ready to violate the law,” Kennedy shot back, “May I suggest that during the luncheon, the sheriff and the district attorney read the Constitution of the United States” (Dreier 1) Kennedy made several other pilgrimages to visit Chavez and they became rather close each time boosting the union’s image.
The civil rights movement was the time where everyone was fighting for equality and rights. As MLK inspired African-Americans to fight for their rights, Chaves fought for farm workers in hopes that they would receive better pay and working conditions. Cesar impacted the movement by showing how you can still get what you want without violence and in a calm