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Born on March 31, 1927, and died on April 23, 1993, Cesar Chavez became recognized and remembered as a leader and labor organizer. By taking risks, encouraging, motivating, and building the confidence of his fellow farmers he founded an organization that later grew to be known as the United Farm Workers. This movement, the number of contracts signed, and the first person to form the first successful farmers union on American soil start to skim the many reasons why Cesar Chavez is a unique individual.
Just like every other farmer plowing the fields, Chavez knew that they too had values and a higher cause. Miriam Pawel, a writer for the New York Times (2013) believes that Cesar Chavez gave people a sense of their own power, while being a very charismatic person and having a strong sense of belief in himself Cesar Chavez possessed a combination of Transformational and Inspirational Leadership styles of approaching situations. He too knew the hardships of watching his family work and lose everything they had, but that didn’t stop him from learning about non-violent protests and honing his skills as an organizer for the Community Service Organization. Soon later, he left his stable job to form the National Farm Workers Association, in which he then became a Servant Leader strategizing, analyzing, and getting the groundwork done to get the people ahead without any worry as to where he would end up, as stated by Penn State Liberal Arts Professor Elaine (2016) Carmen.
Before Chavez there were no health benefits for workers in the fields, so he sought to attain those things that they needed which he considered essential. The Health Funding Organization (2017) states that in the rights of the union contracts Cesar focused on getting clean drinking water, protective clothing, rest periods, and hand washing stations, these were the first essential items the farm workers received while on the fields. Many contracts were written and many contracts one such as with the California grape growers were done simply to recuperate the loses on the grape growers side as how Chavez states, ‘the growers signed the contracts, but they never intended to live up to them’. Pawel (2013) reminds us that the number of Americans that decided not to buy grapes were well over 17 million. There was much racism and outright prejudice from the white growers that simply felt that Chaves was a sham and this lead to more fasting, and more boycotts. This is why each time they had reached a point of agreement with employers, Chavez would create a union contract that stated that workers would receive better compensation and safer working conditions.
Writer Matthiessen (1969) informs us that the movement’s symbol, the black eagle was drawn by his brother in a way that would allow anyone to reproduce it very easily. The whole purpose of the flag was to demonstrate the importance of having a symbol that not only united everyone but as Cesar said, give them pride, so when they see it, they know it means Dignity. A person that leads like this, with focus on their people and with full force for justice that they know is rightfully theirs would easily be able to unite and lead the people in Havana, Cuba. These people suffer from the same status deficits as the poor farm workers that Chavez worked with, and receive almost no health benefits from working long hours and at times are even unemployed with too much fear to stand up for themselves. Seeing as Cesar Chavez is a tactician and strategist when it comes to long term planning, it’s possible he can also overcome the estrangement that Cuba’s dictator has towards its people.
From humble beginnings to living a life which leads him to die from his own morals, Cesar Chavez is honored today on the Cesar Chavez day, March 31st in 10 states, bringing together those who work in the service or simply want to pay homage to a well-respected man.
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