Cesar Chavez’s Fast for Life

Several times in his life as a community organizer, Cesar Chavez used the excruciatingly personal tool of fasting to advance what we all recognize today as simple human justice. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (pictured above) joined with Chavez in March 1968, soon before the end of Chavez’s 25-day fast for basic farm worker’s rights.

pesticidesboycott lettuce
In July 1988, the struggle continued as Chavez began a fast in response to the dangers of deadly pesticides. Thirty-six days later, he ended his strike by breaking bread with Ethel Kennedy, the widow of his old ally. As he ended his fast, Cesar Chavez handed a wooden cross to Rev. Jesse Jackson, symbolizing the passing on of a Fast for Life to concerned people across the country.

jesse jacksonunion of their dreams
To learn more about all aspects of Chavez’s life, and the ongoing work he inspired please visit the Cesar Chavez Foundation website, and we can also recommend Miriam Pawel’s book, The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Survival in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement.


One thought on “Cesar Chavez’s Fast for Life

  1. The farm laborers are a very special people. Humble, they know the land better than most, because they are close to the fields. They grow, pick and raise/slaughter all our food. They have been taken advantage of, being often the targets of racism, humilation, hunger; being allotted squalor, they prevail.

    In our America, the migrants are those who are never seen, except perhaps by some remote chance one eyes them bent over in the hot sun from a very long distance, driving by, quickly, seeing only a blur.

    Physically speaking, they are those who work for mere survival, rarely seeing more than the crops they will grow and harvest, knowing quite well about pained feet, chapped hands and sunburned faces, they still manage to smile wider than most of those of us zooming by in our fancy airconditioned sports cars; because they live by means of cooperation, mainly.

    Cesar was only one of them. He knew what they knew, even what they know now. Fasting and hunger are quite similar in so many ways, including a need for patience, preserverance and great, unstoppable faith that soon God will fulfill one’s hunger… after one has been fed the bread of life first, of course.

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