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“No one is ever strong enough that you don’t need help”- César Chávez. This is one of my favorite quotes from Cesar Chavez. He helped almost all of California’s fruit pickers, but, sadly, died in the process. His death also makes a point towards what he was striking about.
Cesar was born in Yuma Arizona and was a human rights activist for most of his life. He has two brothers and two sisters. He was named after his grandpa. He was born into a family that only owned a ranch and a small grocery store, both of which were lost during the Great Depression in a scam. He had to pick fruits according to the time of year, corn and grapes in the summer, cherries in the spring, and cotton in the fall. His family, scammed out of their house and land, moved to California. In 1942 in the seventh grade he quit school to help his family make a living. Soon he joined the navy for two years hoping to develop good skills as a civilian. He hated it, describing it as the “two worst years of my life”.
When he came back to check on the state, he saw that workers’ rights were still the same, bad conditions, no bathroom, low wages. So he did something about it. He wanted to bring awareness to the bad conditions of the workers and started a strike. It lasted five years. It was called the Delano Grape Strike, and the goal was to get higher wages. They also encouraged boycotting table grapes to show their support. Chavez even got support from Walter Luther, who donated $7,500 per month to Chavez to use for organizing the strike for the whole 5 years. His support made it hard for people to ignore them. He even organized the salad bowl strike, the biggest strike ever in the U.S.
César Chavez has changed society and I think it was for the better. He changed what we think of as humane or inhumane. At the time it was normal to have bad conditions (no bathroom, shade, or water) but now it is the subject of strikes and is almost illegal. He also brought attention to the effects of being exposed to pesticide. He brought attention to the many fruit picker deaths but, sadly got exposed to it in the process.
Society changed a lot since Chavez was alive but his legacy lives on. He fought for human rights and got what he wanted. The things he changed lives on to this day. If he didn’t strike table grapes and pesticide use people would still die from pesticide. Also all the fruit pickers would still have bad conditions. So on the behalf of all fruit pickers, thank you César Chavez wherever you are.
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