“We must understand that the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline.” – Cesar Chavez
Last week there were many celebrations honoring the life and work of activist Cesar Chavez. On Tuesday the state of California celebrated “Cesar Chavez Day” this year marking the 88th anniversary of his birth.
In Riverside, the Latino Network hosted their 16th annual Cesar Chavez Memorial Breakfast and the Riverside School of the Arts sponsored a mini-film festival at the UCR Culver Center for the Arts. All a part of a week of activities in the city to honor the man who dedicated his life to improve the lives and working conditions of some of our country’s most disenfranchised workers.
At the urging of Councilman Andy Melendrez, I watched the film Cesar Chavez and was reminded of Chavez’s complete sacrifice in fighting for the basic rights of California’s farm workers and for better conditions for everyone in California’s agriculture industry, now one of the largest global economies.
As a reformer and non-violent activist, he and United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, fought to change the industry’s horrendous working conditions including advocating for employers to provide access to sanitary bathrooms in the fields, clean water, shade options, habitable housing, and fair wages. The fight was simply for justice, dignity and basic human rights. Chavez’s thoughts on culture, community and commitment still ring true:
Preservation of one’s culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people. When you do, you can demand their commitment in return.