in memory of Cesar E. Chavez

As we approach the turn of the century, many wonder for what 1999 will be remembered. Will it be remembered for its technological advances, for the progress of humanity, for worldwide peace, or rather for war on helpless refugees, for the reinstatement of the death penalty, and for highschool massacres? 1999 will definitely be remembered as a year of brutal bloodshed.

When deciding who to commemorate in our website, we chose to honor an individual who stressed and proved the importance and power of nonviolence by his way of life: Cesar Estrada Chavez.

In choosing Chavez, we hope to demonstrate to others that nonviolence can accomplish many goals, deteriorate many barriers, and facilitate progress, despite the immediate outcome, for as Cesar once said:

"There is no such thing as defeat in nonviolence."


Cesar Estrada Chavez was a great leader and teacher. From his life, we can derive an array of themes to discuss. Yet one of the most outstanding and important ones in regards to todayĖs society is his belief in nonviolence.

Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Cesar have proved to America and the world that nonviolence brings forth success and justice. Many of these leaders died for their nonviolent effort, yet they were victorious in their cause. Although they have left a deep impression on our present-day society, at times Martin Luther KingĖs sermons of peace and CesarĖs fasts are ignored.

Countless people have been the victims of violent crimes in America. Many Teenagers today resort to violence as a way to find justice. MassachusettsĖs Latin Kings was a gang created by young Hispanic men who sought refuge from the discrimination and racism that they encountered. Their solution: drug dealing, robbery, shootings... Is this justice?

"Violence just hurts those who are already hurt...Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it."- Cesar Chavez


These young gangsters, instead of fighting injustice, fall into and thus assert the stereotype of the Hispanic people- a people of violence, crime, and ignorance. For this reason, Chavez preferred to sacrifice his health than to use violent insurrections to promote his cause.

However, many individuals and organizations today strive to keep King and ChavezĖs philosophy alive. People such as Jesse Jackson and Mother Teresa have dedicated their lives to the betterment of humanity. UFW, LULAC, Amnesty International, and MEChA are all organizations that practice this philosophy of peace, unity, and determination, for justice and advancement. Even our Boston Latin School fosters student clubs, which employ this philosophy. Clubs such as The Afrikan Cultural Society (AKS), the Talented And Gifted Hispanic Program (TAG), Asian Students In Action (ASIA), and our very own Amnesty International are committed to the Boston Latin School community and often work in coalition with the Administration to continuously improve the school's social atmosphere.

There are many ways you as an individual and student can become part of CesarĖs legacy:

  1. Join school activities, sports or clubs. These will help you become more open-minded and extroverted, learn more about yourself as well as new and useful skills. By joining a sport you learn discipline and the value of teamwork. By joining, for example, a cultural club, you learn about the culture, its customs and its people. In both, you have the opportunity of developing leadership, new friendships, and most importantly, it may help you define your identity.
  2. Become involved in your community. Reserve some of your time to help others in need. You may tutor, serve food at a shelter, play with hospitalized children, or converse with the elderly. This is for both the community and for your personal benefit. Find something you like to do and go for it!
  3. Join an organization outside of school that interests you and serves a cause. LULAC for example, has a youth council in many cities. There, you can work with other teens from around the city in organizing events to benefit the Hispanic youth. These organizations are a great way of opening yourself to different environments. Your self-confidence, as well as your leadership skills, are likely to increase.
  4. Voice your thoughts. This may seem insignificant, but what you think and feel is very important; recognize that importance. Many feel as though one voice is not sufficient to bring about any change, but it is the first step towards it; as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. You may not be alone in your opinion. If you believe enough in something, talk to people and explain your issue. With support, you can right wrongs, and bring about much needed improvement. Remember: in unity there is strength. Take action. It will take time, but follow through.

  5. "When you have people together who believe in something very strongly - whether it's religion or politics or unions Ō things happen."
    - Cesar E. Chavez

  6. Do not conform to injustice. If you are being wronged, or if someone else is, stand up for yourself and others. Speak up, as did Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and so many others through the course of history. Do not be intimidated by someoneĖs age, size, or race. Help yourself and help those in need. Remember CesarĖs words:
"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.Ó


These are just a few of the ways in which you can help make Cesar ChavezĖs work worthwhile.

Due to the lack of communication and tolerance in America, many are impelled to express their anger and frustration through violence. If we as a society strive to integrate nonviolence in our daily lives, tragedies, such as that of Columbine High School, will not reoccur.

When faced with adversity, always keep in mind the power of nonviolence.

"Nonviolence is a very powerful weapon. Most people don't understand the power of nonviolence and tend to be amazed by the whole idea. Those who have been involved in bringing about change and see the difference between violence and nonviolence are firmly committed to a lifetime of nonviolence, not because it is easy or because it is cowardly, but because it is an effective and very powerful way."
- Cesar E. Chavez

Ilyitch N. Tabora and Dariely Rodriguez
Boston Latin School
Last Updated on May 28, 1999