“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 Chávez
Today we honor and celebrate the legacy of American civil rights activist and farm laborer Cesar Chávez who was born on this day in 1927. As a youth, Chávez experienced firsthand the violent oppression and abuse of migrant farmworkers, predominantly Latinx and Filipino-American individuals, by Anglo ranchers and farm owners. During his lifetime he fought for and won civil rights for farm laborers, organized vulnerable communities and workers, led boycotts and strikes, and opened the nation’s eyes, ears, and hearts to the plight of migrant farm workers. It is reported that more than 17 million Americans joined his boycott of grapes.
But Chávez boldly asserted, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”
Sure, Urban Roots youth grow some of the most beautiful produce in town, but that’s not all that’s growing on the farm. The youth themselves are growing in ways that inspire us every day, whether they are trying new skills, like growing and cooking their own squash for the first time, or facilitating an intergenerational recipe development project in the community. That’s the power of food, farming, and community.
Urban Roots programs support Youth Leaders as they explore the very foundation of who they are – their identity, their personal food stories and how those stories are connected to their cultures and communities; and they practice leadership skills like public speaking, team-building, and problem-solving. South Austin Intern Jose shared this about their experience, “I really love the opportunities it gives me… it feels good knowing the stuff we harvest gets donated and sold… knowing that it goes to good places… I don’t have opportunities like that… it’s nice to be able to help the community and help with others…”
With every new experience, every connection with fellow youth, they bravely step out of their comfort zones. And the reward for that kind of courage is a more deeply rooted confidence and empowerment — and our community is all the better for that!
So today (and everyday) we ask you to consider the power in growing food, in feeding others, and in coming together as a community to fight for a better world for all. If you can, consider making a donation to support Urban Roots youth as they exercise their voice and build power within our communities. You can support our Youth Leadership Programs here (or click the button below).
To learn more about Cesar Chávez and his legacy, we encourage you to visit the Cesar Chávez Foundation website here (or click the button below).