Anthony Chavez: Continuing the Legacy of Inspiration from Cesar Chavez

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Walking in the footsteps of his grandfather, Anthony Chavez wants to make difference in the lives of young people.

“What I want to tell the youth is that their voices do matter that they can start making change now,” Chavez says.

He is the grandson of César Chavez, who formed the United Farm Workers union and led the Farm Workers Movement in California in the 1960s, fighting for civil rights while promoting nonviolence.

“I remind students what my grandfather said, ‘We don’t need perfect political systems, what we need is more perfect participation,’” Chavez has said.

…Anthony does more than speak about the social impact of his grandfather. He conveys the internal character, sacrifices, and commitment to service, compassion, and community that made the external impact of his grandfather’s work possible. Anthony tells students that civil rights icon César Chavez was able to improve the conditions for American farmworkers and mobilize 17 million people worldwide in a California grape boycott because he recognized the power individuals could have when they joined together to fight for justice.

… “The end of all education should be service to others,” he said.

… I realize that a lot of my grandfather’s work and the work of Mahatma Gandhi and MLK Jr. was very simple – and it was all on the premise of respecting a human life for what it was.  … MLK Jr., what he was aspiring toward – even though it was to help the African American population in the south with all the racism and hatred or anger he was dealing with – he reminded them it was about everyone’s wholeness, for everyone’s well-being; to make sure we can live in a just world together.

That’s what I realized about Brother David’s [Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast, world-renowned author, speaker, lecturer, interreligious pioneer] message of gratefulness, thanksgiving, gratitude – that it goes right down to the fundamentals and to the essentials and to the priorities of reminding ourselves that we should be grateful for the lives that we have and the lives that we share … by learning to respect the life that we belong to and the life that we have, it allows us to shape a new course of action because we put ourselves in a very mindful, a very considerate, a very compassionate (if you want to call it that) view or vantage point so I think it calls for a certain action out of us and we start to see things in that new light.”

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