Integrity: Cesar Chavez, Si Se Puede (Yes We Can)

1968 Robert Kennedy & Cesar Chavez

1968 Robert Kennedy & Cesar Chavez

“In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy broke bread with Cesar Chavez after a 25 day hunger strike even after being warned by aides that it might not be the best move for him politically.”

When I first read these words about the 1968 fasting event that migrant worker and activist, Cesar Chavez led in California and Arizona, posted in a Facebook thread,  I was struck with awe.

I responded to the thread in 2011:

“11/12/11  OMG! Priceless! And we continue to march on — they left us a legacy that must be protected, encouraged, and honored. Integrity is not bought, it’s not for sale, it’s inherited, taught, and worth the value.”

I was only 18 years old in 1968 and not even graduated yet from high school, but I grew up knowing and learning about Robert F. Kennedy and cried along with the rest of the country when he was brutally assassinated.

I vaguely had heard about Cesar Chavez, but I grew to respect him and his struggles with unfairness in the farming and agricultural industry specifically harvesting crops by the migrant workers.

I continued to hear about him as I grew older and have now come to greatly admire his courage and his integrity.

Accordingly, the distinguished slogan “Si Se Puede” (Yes, We Can) originated from this movement to improve migrant working conditions and employer wage gouging affecting the migrants while encouraging the Mexican Americans to register to vote.

Cesar Chavez was a U.S.  citizen born in Yuma, Arizona, March 31, 1927  and died April 23, 1993 in San Luis, Arizona.  He grew into a civil rights activist and prominent labor leader.

I write this article about Cesar Chavez and infamous, renown Robert F. Kennedy because the Lord dropped “Integrity” into my spirit.

So I started researching “integrity” and wondered who I could relate to that most fitted this description other than the greatest integrity of my Lord Jesus Christ when up pops again the fasting image of Robert F. Kennedy and Cesar Chavez  a few days ago and I understood what the Lord was trying to say to me.

Integrity Definition

Integrity Definition

So what is integrity?  According to the dictionary, it’s an adherence to moral principles, our moral compass of right and wrong, and honesty; the quality of being unimpaired, soundness; a unity, wholeness.

As I view the image again with Robert F. Kennedy and Cesar Chavez, there is a binding unity in spite of racial and extreme stark life differences.

Certainly moral principles are being revealed rather loudly as these men exemplify a standing up to do the right thing, regardless of the consequences, as  in this case, the rights of a hard-working population, the migrant, to earn a decent wage to support his family which had long gone ignored and overdue in being adequately addressed and corrected.

I am a proponent in the practice of fasting, so the fasting portion observed  by Cesar Chavez touches me because he had gained a deep profound understanding of the importance and power of fasting, a spiritual exercise  affecting the physical human body, in his philosophy to bring about the outcome of what appears to be a hopeless situation while advocating nonviolence creating a change in culture that  can be turned around for the better.

“Chavez undertook a number of “spiritual fasts”, regarding the act as “a personal spiritual transformation”.  In 1968, he fasted for 25 days, promoting the principle of nonviolence.  In 1970, Chavez began a fast of “thanksgiving and hope” to prepare for pre-arranged civil disobedience by farm workers.  Also in 1972, he fasted in response to Arizona’s passage of legislation that prohibited boycotts and strikes by farm workers during the harvest seasons. These fasts were influenced by the Catholic tradition of doing penance and by Gandhi’s fasts and emphasis of nonviolence.” (source: Cesar Chavez, Wikipedia)

Humility and humbleness go hand in hand with integrity because Cesar Chavez was devoid of personal ill-gotten gain.

In his righteousness, he believed in his cause and he won the victory not only for his own family but for the lives of hundreds of  millions of Americans across the country effecting his legacy that is being honored every March 31, through the observance the Cesar Chavez Day:

“Cesar Chavez’s birthday, March 31, is celebrated in California, Colorado, and Texas as a state holiday, intended to promote service to the community in honor of Chavez’s life and work. Many, but not all, state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed. Many public schools in the state are also closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona and Colorado. Although it is not a federal holiday, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 31 as “Cesar Chavez Day” in the United States, with Americans being urged to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.” (source: Cesar Chavez, Wikipedia)

We face challenges daily and things are getting tougher in America.

Robert F. Kennedy stated on March 10, 1968 in a speech to Cesar Chavez:

“Others inspired by your example, have come to offer help–and they have helped.  But the victories are yours and yours alone.  You have won them with your courage and perseverance.  You stood for the right–you would not be moved…”

I come here today to honor you for the long and patient commitment you have made to this great struggle for justice.  And I come here to say that we will fight together to achieve for you the aspirations of every American — decent wages, decent housing, decent schooling, a chance for yourselves and your children.  You stand for justice and I am proud to stand with you.

Viva la causa.”

(source:  Research,  Robert F. Kennedy Statement on Cesar Chavez, March 10, 1968 , 3/10/1668)

“Integrity is not bought, it’s not for sale, it’s inherited, taught, and worth the value.”

Create change for the better, stand for what is right, do not be moved otherwise, get courage, practice integrity, pray for the wisdom of the lord.

Si Se Puede (Yes We Can) together!




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