Cesar Chavez was a key organizer of migrant American farmworkers and cofounded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta in 1962.
After a challenging upbringing and a stint in the U.S. Navy, Chavez became a prominent labor leader, leading significant strikes and boycotts that resulted in crucial bargaining agreements with agribusinesses.
The NFWA eventually became the United Farm Workers (UFW), which faced competition from the Teamsters Union.
However, a peace pact in 1977 gave UFW exclusive rights to organize farmworkers.
Chavez, celebrated for his nonviolent activism, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, accepted by his wife, Helen.
I have listed below some of the best quotes by Cesar Chavez.
Best Cesar Chavez Quotes
We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure. ~ Cesar Chavez.
When you sacrifice, you force others to sacrifice. It’s an extremely powerful weapon. ~ César Chávez.
There’s no reason to be non-violent. There’s no challenge unless you are living for people. ~ Cesar Chavez.
There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In some cases non-violence requires more militancy than violence. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Without a union, the people are always cheated, and they are so innocent. ~ Cesar Chavez.
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. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Do not romanticize the poor…We are all people, human beings subject to the same temptations and faults as all others. Our poverty damages our dignity. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Top Cesar Chavez Quotes
It takes a lot of punishment to be able to do anything to change the social order. ~ Cesar Chavez.
When a man or woman, young, or old, takes a place on the picket line for even a day or two, he will never be the same again. ~ Cesar Chavez.
True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Violence just hurts those who are already hurt…Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We have seen the future, and the future is ours. ~ Cesar Chavez.
It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves. ~ César Chávez.
Kindness and compassion toward all living things is the mark of a civilized society. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In 1968, I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry, and unhappy like we do.. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Inspirational Cesar Chavez Quotes
Years of misguided teaching have resulted in the destruction of the best in our society, in our cultures and in the environment. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The basis for peace is respecting all creatures. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak… Non-violence is hard work. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We do not need to kill or destroy to win. We are a movement that builds and not destroys. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The only ones who make things change are fanatics. If you’re not a fanatic around here, you can’t cut it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Because we have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything – even our lives – in our struggle for justice. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We need, in a special way, to work twice as hard to help people understand that the animals are fellow creatures, that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Thoughtful Cesar Chavez Quotes
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Non-violence has suffered its biggest defeat in the hands of people who most want to talk about it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Our very lives are dependent, for sustenance, on the sweat and sacrifice of the campesinos. Children of farm workers should be as proud of their parents’ professions as other children are of theirs. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people. When you do, you can demand their commitment in return. ~ Cesar Chavez.
There are many reasons for why a man does what he does. To be himself he must be able to give it all. If a leader cannot give it all he cannot expect his people to give anything. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We are suffering. We have suffered. And we are not afraid to suffer in order to win our cause. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Motivational Cesar Chavez Quotes
When any person suffers for someone in greater need, that person is a human. ~ César Chávez.
If you’re not frightened that you might fail, you’ll never do the job. If you’re frightened, you’ll work like crazy. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I am an organizer, not a union leader. A good organizer has to work hard and long. There are no shortcuts. You just keep talking to people, working with them, sharing, exchanging and they come along. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Never, never is it possible to reach someone if you become angry or bitter only love and gentleness can do it. Maybe not this time but maybe the next or the hundredth time. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Together, all things are possible. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Those who are willing to sacrifice and be of service have very little difficulty with people. They know what they are all about. People can’t help but want to be near them. They help them; they work with them. That’s what love is all about. It starts with your heart and radiates out. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people. ~ Cesar Chavez.
If you want to remember me, organize! ~ Cesar Chavez.
We must understand that the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Wise Cesar Chavez Quotes
You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ~ Cesar Chavez.
There is no law for farm labor organizing, save the law of the jungle. ~ Cesar Chavez.
From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Concentration is inspiration. You must be completely overtaken by your work and your subject. Only then do all your influences and experience come up to the surface. ~ Cesar Chavez.
However important the struggle is and however much misery and poverty and degradation exist, we know that it cannot be more important than one human life. ~ Cesar Chavez.
What is at stake is human dignity. If a man is not accorded respect he cannot respect himself and if he does not respect himself, he cannot demand it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
If you give yourself totally to the nonviolence struggle for peace and justice you also find that people give you their hearts and you will never go hungry and never be alone. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Nonviolence is really tough. You don’t practice nonviolence at conferences; you practice it on picket-lines. ~ Cesar Chavez.
As long as we have a poor country bordering California, it’s going to be very difficult to win strikes. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Our union represents a breaking away…represents sharing a power, represent questioning, represents a new force…however long it takes, we are geared for a struggle. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Famous Cesar Chavez Quotes
There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance. ~ Cesar Chavez.
If we are full of hatred, we can’t really do our work. Hatred saps all that strength and energy we need to plan. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Self dedication is a spiritual experience. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We farm workers are closest to food production. We were the first to recognize the serious health hazards of agriculture pesticides to both consumers and ourselves. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I’ve always maintained that it isn’t the form that’s going to make the difference. It isn’t the rule or the procedure or the ideology, but it’s human beings that will make it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Talk is cheap…It is the way we organize and use our lives everyday that tells what we believe in. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men! ~ Cesar Chavez.
We are organizers at heart. Most of us in the movement take great pride in being able to put things together. ~ Cesar Chavez.
If you win non-violently, then you have a double victory, you have not only won your fight, but you remain free. ~ Cesar Chavez.
What I do shows people what kind of person I am. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Inspiring Cesar Chavez Quotes
You know, if people are not pacifists, it’s not their fault. It’s because society puts them in that spot. You’ve got to change it. You don’t just change a man – you’ve got to change his environment as you do it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I would not take one cup of coffee from a grower…There’s not a good one. I hate them. A few presents, a little talk, then the noose. That’s how capitalism works. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In the final analysis it doesn’t really matter what the political system is…We don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The end of all knowledge should be service to others. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature. ~ Cesar Chavez.
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. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Non-violence exacts a very high price from one who practices it. But once you are able to meet that demand then you can do most things. ~ Cesar Chavez.
You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In the no-nonsense school of adversity, which we did not choose for ourselves, we are learning how to operate a labor union. ~ Cesar Chavez.
You are never strong enough that you don’t need help. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Look at the John Birch Society. Look at Hitler. The reactionaries are always better organizers. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Organizing is an educational process. The best educational process in the union is the picket line and the boycott. You learn about life. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The people united will never be defeated. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Popular Cesar Chavez Quotes
Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity? ~ Cesar Chavez.
There is enough love and good will in our movement to give energy to our struggle and still have plenty left over to break down and change the climate of hate and fear around us. ~ Cesar Chavez.
The strike and the boycott, they have cost us much. What they have not paid us in wages, better working conditions, and new contracts, they have paid us in self-respect and human dignity. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Grant me courage to serve others; For in service there is true life. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Just as Dr. King was a disciple of Gandhi and Christ, we must now be Dr. King’s disciples. Dr. King challenged us to work for a greater humanity. I only hope that we are worthy of his challenge. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I’m not going to ask for anything unless the workers want it. If they want it, they’ll ask for it. ~ Cesar Chavez.
In non-violence the cause has to be just and clear as well as the means. ~ Cesar Chavez.
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Unique Cesar Chavez Quotes
There’s no turning back…We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart… ~ Cesar Chavez.
We learned many years ago that the rich may have money, but the poor have time. ~ Cesar Chavez.
When the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering, and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We are certain God’s will is that all men share in the good things this earth produces. ~ Cesar Chavez.
To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence. ~ Cesar Chavez.
A symbol is an important thing. That is why we chose an Aztec eagle. It gives pride…When people see it they know it means dignity. ~ Cesar Chavez.
We’re going to pray a lot and picket a lot. ~ Cesar Chavez.
I think one of the great, great problems…is confusing people to the point where they become immobile. In fact, the more things people can find out for themselves, the more vigor the organization is going to have. ~ Cesar Chavez.
To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men! ~ Cesar Chavez.
Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves – and be free. ~ Cesar Chavez.
When you have people together who believe in something very strongly – whether it’s religion or politics or unions – things happen. ~ Cesar Chavez.
Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well with others. ~ Cesar Chavez.
So these were the 97 top Cesar Chavez quotes on education, social change, leadership and labor.