A fast for Nonviolence

Forty years ago, on March 11, 1968 Cesar Chavez ended a 23-day fast for U.S. farm workers in a Delano, California, public park with 4000 supporters at his side, including Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York).  Although too weak to stand or speak, César had a friend read a message that César had written earlier.

“We are gathered here today not so much to observe the end of the Fast but becausewe are a family bound together in a common struggle for justice. We are a Unionfamily celebrating our unity and the nonviolent nature of our movement.   

I undertook the Fast because my heart was filled with grief and pain for the sufferings of farm workers. The Fast was first for me and then for all of us in this Union. It was a Fast for nonviolence and a call to sacrifice. Our struggle is not easy. Those that oppose our cause are rich and powerful, and theyhave many allies in high places. We are poor. Our allies are few. But we havesomething the rich do not own. We have our own bodies and spirits and the justice ofour cause as our weapons. When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admitthat our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives thatdetermine what kind of men we really are.  

It is my deepest belief that only by giving of our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men.”

Cesar E. Chavez Day is a holiday in eight states (AZ, CA, CO, MI, NM, TX, UT, WI) and dozens of cities and counties throughout the nation. It is celebrated on March 31st.  Think about what you might do to honor the day.

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