By Allison Park, Youth United Member
It has been many decades since Cesar Chavez’s empowering union rights movements, but his legacy still ripples through our nation today. Today we celebrate the great changes he made upon our society, from fighting against vicious racism to rallying for consumer rights and farmers’ living conditions. Without Chavez, the United States wouldn’t be the melting pot of diversity, rights and opportunity that it proudly stands for.
In 1960s, Chavez created the Farm Workers Association, a that not only fought for farmers’ working conditions, but for poor Americans discriminated by their race or social standings. Chavez courageously crusaded for the millions of people without a voice, bettering working conditions and raising salaries for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. He never stopped short of his aspirations; he spoke intimately to each individual, heightening the love within their hearts. This love is what makes Chavez’s movement so powerful, and it is what Habitat for Humanity aspires to replicate each and every day.
With every community work day, from intensively weeding gardens at Compton Initiative to painting homes at the Lowe’s event, we strive to fill joy and love within people. We champion not only building homes and renovating those that are falling apart, but establishing hope within great people who may feel neglected, unappreciated or alone.
It isn’t necessary to go to crazy extents as Chavez, like fasting for 25 days straight with minimum food and water (to advocate against union violence), or passively resisting the police, but as long as we do everything with love as strong as Chavez’s, we can accomplish amazing things. And, ultimately, these lessons on human dignity are the foundation of what we are celebrating today.
After his 25 day fast, Chavez was too weak to speak, but had someone read out his message to thousands of his followers and future generations to come, “When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice.”
We should aspire to live and breathe Chavez’s words, not only when we gather together as an entire Habitat for Humanity community, but in our everyday lives. With our hearts open wide- abandoned on our sleeves, we must follow in Chavez’s footsteps to be a voice for those who are fighting a silent battle for a better home and a jubilant life.