CESAR CHAVEZ: RESPECT FOR ALL
A Model for Ethics-Based Leadership
SUBJECTS — U.S. 1945 – current, Diversity; Hispanic-Americans; Diversity/African-American & California;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Leadership, Human Rights, GBLTQ, Caring for Animals;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect.
AGE: 10+; Not Rated; (would be G);
Documentary; 2018; 22 minutes; Color. Available free by clicking here.
Give your students new perspectives on race relations, on the history of the American Revolution, and on the contribution of the Founding Fathers to the cause of representative democracy. Check out TWM’s Guide:
MOVIE WORKSHEETS & STUDENT HANDOUTS
TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students’ minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie.
Teachers can modify the movie worksheet to fit the needs of each class.
See also TWM’s Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.
The film is self-authenticating containing interviews with people who knew Cesar Chavez and film clips of his speeches. See also the web sites referred to in this Learning Guide.
Cesar Chavez, remembered chiefly as head of the United Farm Workers (“UFW”), had many dimensions. In fact, he was a moral pioneer, adopting progressive positions long before they became popular. He did this in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s by relentlessly extending the ethical principle of “respect,” not only for farmworkers but also for:
- Women — by supporting them in the workplace; Chavez encouraged women to rise to positions of responsibility and leadership in the UFW; he also demanded that there be no sexual harassment of female farmworkers; the movement against sexual harassment of women in the workplace came into national prominence in 2017 with the #metoo movement; Cesar Chavez was protesting sexual harassment of female farmworkers back in the 1970s;
- Gays and lesbians — in the 1970s, Chavez was the first major civil rights leader to support gays and lesbians; at that time, and for many decades, this was not a popular position; it is still controversial among some people; and
- Non-human sentient beings — becoming a vegetarian and then a vegan, actively promoting respect and compassion for animals back in the 1980s and early 1990s when animal rights and veganism were not part of the national conversation.
*Latino, Latino-American and Hispanic are used interchangeably in this guide as their applications continue to evolve.
In addition, Chavez joined many leaders of the 20th century in promoting a society free from child labor and from discrimination based on race, ethnic background, or religious affiliation. He was against the use of pesticides that were often sprayed on the farmworkers as they labored in the fields.
Cesar Chavez was a deeply religious Catholic and developed his prescient positions on women, gays, lesbians, and animals by applying the Christian ethic of love and respect for all. He was also a disciple of the Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who was a vegetarian and an advocate of promoting social change through nonviolent direct action.
The film that accompanies this Learning Guide, Cesar Chavez: Respect for All invites the viewer to take a journey of discovery with Genesis Palacio-Butler, a 9-year-old girl of African-American, Apache, and Hispanic descent. The Hispanic comes from her mother, who is the grandniece of Cesar Chavez.
Genesis travels with her family from Los Angeles to the Chavez National Monument in Keene, California to learn more about her famous relative. She and Cesar Chavez have much in common. Like Cesar, Genesis is a vegan and an ethical pioneer. From the age of four Genesis refused to eat chicken, then beef, then dairy products. By age nine, she had converted her entire family and some of her friends to a plant-based diet. Genesis leaflets and speaks at conferences in support of compassion for animals. She is one of the youngest people ever to give a TED-X talk.
On her journey to the Chavez National Monument, Genesis speaks with Cesar’s son, Paul Chavez; with Arturo Rodriguez, at that time President of the UFW; with Marc Grossman, Cesar’s longtime spokesman/speechwriter; and with several others who worked alongside Cesar Chavez in the UFW.
Cesar Chavez: Respect for All has been endorsed by the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the United Farmworkers.
SELECTED AWARDS & CAST
Selected Awards: None.
Featured Actors: The following people play themselves: Genesis Palacio-Butler, Genelle Palacio-Butler, Anthony Butler, Paul Chavez, Arturo Rodriguez, and Marc Grossman.
Director: Glenn Scott Lacey
BENEFITS OF THE MOVIE
Cesar Chavez: Respect for All
- provides an introduction to the work of Cesar Chavez;
- demonstrates that Chavez expanded the scope of his demand for respect from a focus on farmworkers to include women, children, gays and lesbians, and all sentient beings;
- portrays a confident young activist who is further empowered by her journey to the Chavez National Monument; and
- shows a young girl who is the embodiment of the advantages that come from a diverse society of inclusion.
The film is a unique supplement to units on American History in the last half of the 20th century and to studies about the contribution of Latinos and Latinas to American society.
Watch the film with your children and tell them that his love for his guard dogs led him to stop eating all animal products, both meat and dairy.
USING THE MOVIE IN THE CLASSROOM
Coretta Scott King and Cesar Chavez singing “We Shall Overcome”
Check for Prior Knowledge: Before showing the film, teachers can ask the class selected prompts including: “What do you know about Cesar Chavez” and “Which groups are struggling for/demanding rights today? What do you think about their demands?”
Historical Background — America in the Second Half of the 20th Century
Before watching the film, high school or advanced middle school classes can read TWM’s student handout, “Cesar Chavez and the Meaning of Respect.” (Click here for a Microsoft Word version. Click here for a pdf version.) The movie will serve to emphasize and confirm the lessons in the handout.
Advanced high school students can be assigned to read the 18 page article, The Biden-Chavez Connection.
For teachers who want to use a lecture format, TWM suggests the following direct instruction which tracks the text of the student handout:
Suggested Direct Instruction
Make sure that students are familiar with the economic and social conditions in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th Century. Below are a few points that students should understand in order to fully appreciate this film and the vision of Cesar Chavez.
At the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, America and its allies had recently defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The U.S. was one of two great superpowers. While it was locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, the U.S. had never been more powerful or more preeminent in the world.
This was a time of great economic expansion in the U.S. Household income increased dramatically from 1940 – 1970 and moderately for the rest of the century.
However, not everyone participated in the new prosperity. Racism, sexism, and homophobia prevented millions from reaching their full potential. In 1950 America was a different place than it is today. Back then, most people accepted the status quo as inevitable and even beneficial. Thus:
- Racist laws targeting African-Americans existed in many states, particularly in the southern U.S.; racist customs and social conventions were adhered to throughout the country;
- Other minorities, including Latinos, Americans of Asian descent, and Jews also suffered from discrimination;
- There was endemic poverty in many parts of the country, especially in rural areas and particularly among migrant farmworkers;
- Women in the workforce were paid less than men for the same work, were denied advancement, and were subject to sexual harassment; the belief at the time was that, “A woman’s place is in the home;”
- Gays and lesbians were given harsh treatment and were often subjected to physical violence; most gays and lesbians hid their sexual orientation;
- Migrant farmworkers (of all races and from many nations, including whites, blacks, Hispanics, Filipinos, Yemenis) toiled in the fields for little pay and in miserable conditions; and
- Children of migrant farmworkers worked in the fields with their parents for much of the year.
Starting with the movement for African-American civil rights in the 1950s, these oppressed groups mounted serious challenges to the way they were treated. Cesar Chavez, along with Dolores Huerta, founded the UFW. Chavez became the most visible leader of the movement to require farm owners to give migrant workers a decent wage and better working conditions.
The Source of Cesar’s Passion:
In a speech in 1984, Cesar Chavez described what led him to dedicate his life to those who pick the fruit and vegetables on America’s farms. [Teachers: Download the following paragraph of a speech Cesar Chavez gave in the 1980s and play it for the class. The text is below. Click here for the download.]
I’m not very different from anyone else who has ever tried to accomplish something with his life. My motivation comes from my personal life, from watching what my mother and father went through when I was growing up, from what we experienced as migrant workers in California. That dream, that vision grew from my own experience with racism, with hope, with a desire to be treated fairly, and to see my people treated as human beings and not as chattel. It grew from anger and rage, emotions I felt 40 years ago when people of my color were denied the right to see a movie or eat at a restaurant in many parts of California. It grew from the frustration and humiliation I felt as a boy who couldn’t understand how the growers could abuse and exploit farmworkers when there were so many of us and so few of them. (Speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, November 9, 1984)
From 1962 until his death in 1993, Chavez organized strikes and boycotts to force the growers to respect their workers by paying higher wages and providing better working conditions. He organized communities to get people to register to vote and then he fought in political campaigns for candidates who respected Latinos and would pass laws to give rights to farmworkers.
Respect for All:
Respect is an important value in all cultures and particularly in Hispanic culture — and Cesar Chavez was all about respect. He realized that the farmworkers could not demand respect from their bosses without giving respect to all others. He applied the ethical principle of reciprocity taught by all major religions.
In the Judeo/Christian religions it is expressed as the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” and “Love thy
neighbor as thyself.” Chavez differed from many in that he rigorously applied the ethical principles of the Christian religion in his relations with all types of people and with other sentient beings. This led him to take progressive positions on women in the workplace as well as on gay rights.
CESAR AND THE GUARD DOGS: In perhaps his most controversial ethical insight, Chavez extended “respect” to nonhuman sentient beings. Here is how it happened. For many years, Cesar’s life was under threat because the owners of the farms were angry that their workers were organizing into a union demanding better pay and working conditions. UFW members wanted to hire armed guards to protect Cesar. However, Cesar believed in nonviolence and wouldn’t permit this type of protection. The compromise was that the Union provided Cesar with a specially trained German shepherd. The dog was named “Boycott.” Later they got him a second dog who was named “Huelga” (the word for “strike” in Spanish). The animals would disable anyone pointing anything that resembled a gun at Cesar. The dogs were often at Cesar’s side. Cesar said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.”
[Conclusion] While Cesar Chavez was primarily a leader of farmworkers, he applied the concept of respect to people of all races and creeds, to women, to gay and lesbian people, and to non-human sentient animals. Chavez provides an example of the positive ethics-based leadership sorely needed by every nation.
Dolores Huerta – Cesar Chavez’ Partner in the UFW
Dolores Huerta was Cesar Chavez’ partner in the founding of the UFW. They worked closely together from 1965 until Chavez’ death in 1993. Huerta was instrumental in setting up an organizational structure for the Union, lobbying politicians, and negotiating with employers. She played a key role in the Grape Boycott and coined the slogan “¡Si se puede!”
Dolores Huerta is one of the leading female social activists of the 20th century. The UFW’s actions taken based on Chavez’ ethical insights, including non-violence and support for women in the workplace, were joint activities of Chavez and Huerta. Huerta and Chavez’ successor as President of the UFW, Arturo Rodriguez, joined Chavez in becoming vegetarian.
[End of suggested direct instruction.]
A 2017 Documentary, Dolores, traces Dolores Huerta’s history as an activist. The film is suitable for viewing by students.
Visual Learning Exercise — Cesar Chavez’ Rejection of the Concept of “the Other”
A key to Chavez’s philosophy of respect for all was his refusal to see certain people and even animals as “the Other.” That is, he believed that all types of people and sentient animals were deserving of our moral concern. Before watching the film, teachers might want to have students create a concentric circle diagram setting out the various levels of moral concern that they have for others. At the end of the lesson, this process can be repeated and any changes — or the decision not to make a change — can be discussed. Having their positions and beliefs discussed and challenged in a respectful framework will elevate students’ thinking on the issue of “the Other.”
Ask students to create a diagram of concentric circles with themselves at the center. In each successive ring, they should place other people or sentient beings in decreasing levels of moral concern. So, for example, most people will place their family in one of the closer rings; however, people for whom they do not care will occupy an outer ring. Students should label occupants of each ring. Outside of the diagram are those who deserve no moral consideration at all, such as mosquitoes carrying disease or, perhaps, serial killers. Teachers should give students the “phrase bank” set out below. Teachers should feel free to add or subtract categories. Some categories will play no role in the diagram, for example, race, gender, religion or country of origin.
- people of various political beliefs or affiliations;
- people of various classes;
- people of various occupations;
- people of various ethnicities;
- people of particular races;
- people of various countries of origin;
- people of various religions or belief systems;
- people of various genders;
- students at a school that has a sports rivalry with their school;
- various farm animals;
- the Earth;
- All animals on the Earth;
- criminals such as rapists or serial killers;
- any other types or categories of people deemed appropriate by the teacher.
Below is an example of a concentric circle graphic:
In a supportive and respectful discussion, students can be asked to share and discuss their diagrams, describing the reasons for placing people or sentient beings in a particular ring. Teachers should challenge students’ placements; for example, for those who place criminals outside the circle of moral concern, teachers can point out that even serial killers have the right to due process: a fair trial, a jury of their peers, etc. This means that they should be somewhere in the circle of moral concern. Children who place their pets in a close ring but farm animals in an outer ring can be asked to justify this classification. For example, pigs are smarter and more emotionally sensitive than dogs. Crows and octopuses are also smarter than dogs, except in social intelligence. See Reddit article on “A crow, an octopus, or a dog?” Can we tell which is smarter?” and Brainiacs, by Virginia Morell, National Geographic, February 2018, pages 108 – 129.
In addition, if time permits, generational change can be explored by having students create a similar diagram for their grandparents, parents, or even an older sibling.
After Watching the Film
If the class has not read the Student Handout or received the direct instruction described above, teachers can relate some of the interesting anecdotes in those materials such as why “respect” was so important to Cesar Chavez and how he came to apply to concept of respect to non-human animals when the Union gave him Boycott.
Be sure to tell the class that Cesar Chavez was a fighter, although he would never physically hurt anyone. He organized strikes and boycotts to force the growers to pay higher wages and provide better working conditions. He worked to get people to register to vote and then he fought in political campaigns for candidates who would pass laws to give rights to farmworkers.
Additional Helpful Information
The full text of Chavez’ speech that Genesis and her sister (and their dog) watch in a scene in the movie is set out below. The speech was given in 1993 when Chavez was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by an organization called In Defense of Animals. In this short statement, given within a year of his death, Cesar Chavez sets out the ultimate expression of the philosophy of respect that informed his life. Note his repeated use of the word “respect.”
We need in a special way to work twice as hard to make all people understand that animals are fellow creatures; that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves. And that the basis for peace is respecting all creatures. We cannot hope to have peace until we respect everyone, respect ourselves and all living beings.
We cannot defend and be kind to animals until we stop exploiting them. Exploiting them in the name of science, exploiting them in the name of sport, exploiting them in the name of fashion, and yes, exploiting them in the name of food. The basis for peace is respecting all creatures. That’s the basis for peace.
Chavez also practiced meditation and yoga. Visitors to Cesar’s office would sometimes find him standing on his head in a yoga position.
Using In Classroom Here.
Select questions that are appropriate for your students.
1. What does respect mean?
One definition is “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person.” Teachers can guide the discussion toward the idea that there are two different parts of the concept of respect. The first is the equivalent of “deserving of moral consideration.” It is the basic respect to which people and sentient non-humans have a right just because, in the famous formulation of Jeremy Bentham, they can “suffer.” For example, everyone has the right to bodily integrity – the right to be free from assault or injury. They have the right to freedom of movement, within certain limits. In the U.S. citizens have additional basic rights, such as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Other rights granted to citizens, just because they are deserving of moral consideration, are set out in the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. Noncitizens also have some rights under the Constitution, such as equal protection of the laws.
The second type of respect is earned. The right to have authority over other people, either moral or legal, is one that is earned. A wise person’s opinion is respected. We say that we have respect for a person because he or she has many accomplishments.
Another way to start this discussion is to ask “Does respect have to be earned or is it given to all?”
2. What role does respect play in your family? Do your parents or siblings demand either type of respect? Do they deserve it?
There is no one correct response to the question. Students from Hispanic families may say that they are expected to address their fathers with the words, “¿Que manda?” literally, “What do you command?” They may say that the basis for their relationship with the head of their household is respect. While respect is in the foreground in these families, love will also be there. In other families, it is the love that is in the foreground with the requirement of respect being important but not primary and not as formalized.
3. What does an oppressed group have to do to gain respect?
There is no one way. Gandhi and the Indians used nonviolent mass action to gain independence from the British Empire. The U.S. Civil Rights movement used many of the tactics developed by Gandhi. Cesar Chavez employed strikes, picket lines, and enlisted people all over the country to boycott table grapes. Speaking out and using a hash tag can also work, as is happening with the #metoo movement.
NOTE TO TEACHERS:
The following questions are designed to lead the class to understand and internalize two concepts exemplified by the life and leadership of Cesar Chavez:
1. Respect is the underlying ethical basis of all rights movements; and
2. We can’t demand equality for our own people while tolerating discrimination against anyone else.
4. When an industry insists that its workers perform exhausting mind-numbing repetitive work for 12 hours a day in the heat and the cold, without providing sanitary facilities and without providing adequate water, what does this show about the attitudes of the employers toward the workers?
There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes the concept that it shows disrespect for the humanity of the workers.
5. What is the problem with sexism?
There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes lack of respect for women, that it demeans women, that it treats women as sexual objects, and that it denies them an opportunity for full self-realization. In addition, sexism is not good for society because it reduces the value of the contribution of women, slightly more than half the population.
6. What was the relationship between Cesar Chavez’ advocacy for farmworkers and his advocacy for [ask each one separately: (1) gay rights; (2) women in the workplace; (3) bringing sentient animals into the circle of moral concern].
There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes the concept that Cesar Chavez believed that the members of these groups deserved respect and that Chavez saw that one cannot demand respect for his own people while tolerating disrespect for others.
7. We’ve been speaking of people by classifying them into broad groups such as “women,” “gays,” “farmworkers,” “African Americans,” “Hispanics” or “immigrants.” Can you think of any problems in using these traditional broad-brush categories, and if so, what are they?
Problems with these traditional classifications of race, sexual orientation, or status include the following. First, they tend to falsely attribute stereotyped traits to people, ignoring or minimizing the enormous differences between individuals within these groups. For example, there are people of all races, backgrounds or sexual orientation who are strong and others who are weak; some who are honest and others who are dishonest, some are intelligent but others are unintelligent, some are gifted artists while others have no talents, etc. Second, they ignore the strong similarities that unite us as having the same or similar interests. We all want to be happy and to live lives without fear. We want to be loved. all well-meaning people have family relationships to preserve; communities to keep safe; we all need to eat; we need to cooperate to avoid infecting each other with pathogens, and that none of us want ourselves and our loved-ones to suffer. These and many other needs unite us across all traditional classifications of race, ethnicity, sex, and sexual preference. A person who is a farmworker or a lesbian can also be a good parent, a dutiful child, a hard worker, etc. Third, the traditional classifications ignore the fact that the lives of most people have many dimensions of choice or, put another way, all people voluntarily belong to many different groups or as some call them, modern-day “tribes,” which become important to the individuals who belong to them, often, they become as important as the traditional classifications of race, status, sex, and sexual orientation. For example, some people can be devoted to their professions. This can apply to any line of work; examples are teachers, cooks, construction workers, union organizers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, and janitors. Then there are people who join the voluntary interest “tribes” of chess players, athletes, environmentalists, social and political activists, lovers of a particular type of music, or dance, etc. So, we all need to remember the incompleteness of descriptions such as African-American, white, Hispanic, Jewish, white, black, brown, Asian, gay, lesbian etc. to describe individuals.
Cesar Chavez applied this analysis to sentient non-human animals as well. He noticed that they could feel happiness and unhappiness, they could be afraid, they felt pain, they wanted their families to be kept intact in a way consistent with their species, and that they didn’t want to suffer. These powerful interests were the same or very similar to those of our species.
8. When Cesar Chavez said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do” what ethical principle was he applying to animals?
There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes the concept that he believed that they deserved respect as sentient beings who can feel. In the discussion, it also might be helpful to inform the class that utilitarianism is a branch of philosophy that is based on the idea that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Source: Miriam Webster Dictionary. Most vegetarians and vegans in the U.S. cite Peter Singer, a utilitarian philosopher, who formulated the choice as follows. People can get adequate nourishment from a plant-based diet, the only deficiency might be in Vitamin B-12 which can be easily supplied by a vitamin supplement. Thus, the only reason to eat meat or dairy is because we like their taste and texture. However, when people eat meat, farm animals are subjected to great pain. Their babies are taken away, their living conditions are often terrible, and they suffer an early, often painful, death. When animals are respected and their interests are taken into account, the balance of pleasure over pain falls heavily against eating meat or dairy. See Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Another way to describe this concept is Jeremy Bentham’s famous formulation, ” . . . [T]he question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”
9. What is the unifying concept among the various ethical stances of Cesar Chavez?
The ethical principle of respect for all sentient beings.
10. Before he was murdered in 1968, a national leader wrote a telegram to Cesar Chavez referring to Chavez’ efforts to help farmworkers. He wrote:
Our separate struggles are really one. A struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity. . . . You and your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.
Who was this man? Do you agree or disagree with what he wrote? Does this also apply to the other causes that Cesar Chavez championed — gay and lesbian rights, respect for women in the workplace, prohibition of child labor in the fields, and respect for animals?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote this in a telegram the Cesar Chavez. There is no one correct response to the second part of the question. The goal is to get students to debate it. Note that Cesar Chavez said, “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
11. Is Genesis (the girl in the film) correct when she says that anyone can stand up for what they believe? Can you think of other young people who are making a difference? How?
Malala Yousafzai who advocates for education of girls in Pakistan. The Parkland students who advocate for gun control laws. Greta Thunberg who advocates for efforts to stop climate change.
12. The Bible talks about a place in which all the people there eat only plants and harm no animals. What is that place?
The Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1:29 God speaks to Adam saying, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.”
boycott, scab, sentient
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
Most of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:
1. QUICKWRITE: In no more than a page describe what you learned from watching the film Cesar Chavez: Respect for All.
2. Draw a concentric circle diagram setting out the scope of moral consideration for the following: Cesar Chavez, Vladimir Putin, and yourself.
3. Cesar Chavez conducted two long fasts. Research his first fast and describe the Gandhian antecedents of this effort.
4. Write an essay on the importance of “respeto” (also sometimes spelled “respecto”) in traditional Hispanic culture and about Cesar’s view of that concept as shown by his insistence of respect for farmworkers and the respect that he had for others.
5. In his late teens or early 20s, Cesar Chavez flirted with the zoot suit Pachuco culture in Los Angeles. Research the Pachucos and the zoot suiters. What were they looking for from the larger society, and how did that relate to Cesar’s later work for the farmworkers? [Note to Teachers: A well-thought-out essay will conclude that the Pachucos wanted to be respected and wanted their Hispanic culture to be respected. While many Pachucos moved into the gang culture, Cesar moved on from the zoot suiters to demand respect through community organizing.]
6. Assume that it is thirty years from now and that you are a journalist writing one-paragraph entries for an article on social justice leaders. Write an entry on Cesar that encompasses the full range of his activism. Write a second paragraph on Genesis as she has expanded her advocacy from an initial focus on animals to other groups (Hint: Her mother says Genesis is becoming concerned with the plight of homeless people.)
Closing Exercise — Cesar Chavez: Respect and the Concept of “the Other” Visual Exercises
Throughout history, people have suffered and died because they were classified as different in some way — as “the Other.” Race, gender, cultural background, country of origin, religion, and sexual orientation have all been used to justify separation, deprivation, discrimination, harassment, assault, rape, and murder.
Chavez respected all people and, indeed, all sentient beings. All the differences among people were irrelevant to him; every individual was deserving of moral consideration.
At the end end of the lesson ask students if they want to change their diagram of “The Universe of Moral Concern,” and if so, in what way and for what reasons. Have students also draw what they think Cesar’s diagram would be, or discuss it as a class.
What could change if everyone moves closer to the center of the diagram? Another option: Draw Cesar’s and students’ moral universes as a Venn diagram without concentric circles. Ask: what are the overlapping areas?
Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” An additional exercise would have students make a diagram for their parents or grandparents’s moral consideration and discuss any differences between those and their own. Also, students can graph other leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King – or even Emma Gonzalez!
Cesar Chavez: Pro-Immigrant — Anti Strikebreaker
Get the real story of Chavez’ position on immigration. He was for immigrants, helping them get their citizenship so that they could VOTE! He was against people brought over from Mexico to be strikebreakers. Click here!.
CCSS ANCHOR STANDARDS
Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.”) CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.
Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.
Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 – 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 – 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.
Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.
BRIDGES TO READING
Sal Si Puedes by Peter Matthiessen, and The Biden-Chavez Connection by James A. Frieden (suitable for advanced high school readers).
LINKS TO THE INTERNET
- Cultural Values of Latino Patients and Families by Marcia Carteret in Dimensions of Culture;
- Incorporating the Cultural Value of Respeto Into a Framework of Latino Parenting by Esther J. Calzada, Yenny Fernandez, and Dharma E. Cortes, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16(1), 77-86;
- How Cesar Chavez Changed the World — The farmworker’s initiative improved lives in America’s fields, and beyond by Miriam Pawel, Smithsonian Magazine, November 2013;
- Cesar Chavez: Commonwealth Club Address delivered November 9, 1984;
- Music Within Learning Guide; an enchanting film about a friendship that helped to catalyze the disabilities rights movement
The film is self-authenticating containing interviews with people who knew Cesar Chavez and film clips of his speeches. See also the web
sites referred to in this Learning Guide as well as the citations in the article, The Biden-Chavez Connection.
This Learning Guide was written by James Frieden and Deborah Elliott and was
last updated on March 28, 2022.
LEARNING GUIDE MENU:
TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students’ minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie.
Teachers can modify the movie worksheet to fit the needs of each class.
See also TWM’s Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.
THE SPIRIT OF CESAR CHAVEZ LIVES ON!
Chavez was one of the civil rights leaders of the 1960s who inspired a young Joseph R. Biden to go into public service. A bust of Cesar Chavez has an honored place in the Oval Office. Click here, for a full explanation of this and of Cesar Chavez’ legacy.
At the end of this lesson, show students the speech that actor Joaquin Phoenix gave when accepting the Best Actor award at the 2020 Academy Awards. Ask them to describe the similarities between his philosophy and that of Cesar Chavez. Click here to download the speech.
RANDALL KENNEDY, Professor, Harvard Law School on the two alternative traditions relating to racism in America:
“I say that the best way to address this issue is to address it forthrightly, and straightforwardly, and embrace the complicated history and the complicated presence of America. On the one hand, that’s right, slavery, and segregation, and racism, and white supremacy is deeply entrenched in America. At the same time, there has been a tremendous alternative tradition, a tradition against slavery, a tradition against segregation, a tradition against racism.
I mean, after all in the past 25 years, the United States of America has seen an African-American presence. As we speak, there is an African-American vice president. As we speak, there’s an African- American who is in charge of the Department of Defense. So we have a complicated situation. And I think the best way of addressing our race question is to just be straightforward, and be clear, and embrace the tensions, the contradictions, the complexities of race in American life. I think we need actually a new vocabulary.
So many of the terms we use, we use these terms over and over, starting with racism, structural racism, critical race theory. These words actually have been weaponized. They are vehicles for propaganda. I think we would be better off if we were more concrete, we talked about real problems, and we actually used a language that got us away from these overused terms that actually don’t mean that much. From Fahreed Zakaria, Global Public Square, CNN, December 26, 2021
Give your students new perspectives on race relations, on the history of the American Revolution, and on the contribution of the Founding Fathers to the cause of representative democracy. Check out TWM’s Guide: TWO CONTRASTING TRADITIONS RELATING TO RACISM IN AMERICA and a Tragic Irony of the American Revolution: the Sacrifice of Freedom for the African-American Slaves on the Altar of Representative Democracy.
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