Day 6: Inspired by my grandfather, César Chávez
Today is Day 6 of the Thirty Days of Love. Today’s action is to think about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making. Click here for more resources, family actions, and more! Click here to sign up for the daily Thirty Days of Love emails.
Growing up, I was in awe of my grandfather, César Chávez, as I watched his tireless work for the fair treatment of farm workers—an unwavering dedication that changed the lives of millions of people. My grandfather taught immigrants to read, orchestrated massive strikes, advocated for better wages and working conditions, and engaged in civil disobedience. The way he lived his life inspired me to make a lifetime commitment of my own to civil rights, the labor movement, and community organizing. During this week, when the beautiful Standing on the Side of Love community honors the legacy of those social justice leaders who came before us, I am proud to share how my grandfather inspired me.
My grandfather believed in giving power to the people so they could stand up for themselves. For strength, he drew upon Catholic teachings about goodwill, and he engaged in several spiritual fasts to affirm his personal commitment to non-violence. He once said, “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.” Indeed, my grandfather organized across lines of religion and culture. He cared about many disenfranchised groups, speaking out for other unions, against racism, and for LGBTQ rights, animal rights, and peace.
Honoring my grandfather’s legacy, I spent eight years as political director of United Farmworkers Union, the organization he helped co-found over 40 years ago. I also became active in fighting Prop. 8, performing commitment ceremonies to set an example of Latino community support for marriage equality, and helped form the Latino and African American Leadership Alliance to bring two historically disenfranchised communities together to forge peace and unity.
I also draw my inspiration from people all around me today, such as the organizers of Alianza Campesina. In a few months, I will bring 100 women involved in this farmworker women coalition to Washington, D.C. for a U.S. government interagency briefing where they will tell their stories—about wage and hour violations, hardships faced by those who are undocumented, and sexual harassment and domestic abuse.
During this Thirty Days of Love, as you embark on your spiritual journey for social justice, join me in thinking about who—from past to present—inspires your own justice-making.
Carry that inspiration with you as you continue to create incredible change in our world.
Sí, se puede,
Christine Chávez serves as the Farmworker Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a new position in the USDA focusing on how the Department can better serve the farmworker population.