CESAR CHAVEZ IN ACTION
Statement on Ending Fast
It follows the full text transcript of
Cesar Chavez' statement on ending his fast, delivered
by James Drake at Delano, California — March 10, 1968.
I have asked the
Rev. James Drake
to read this
statement to you because my heart is so full and
my body too weak to be able to say what I feel.
My war thanks to all of you for coming today.
Many of you have been here before, during the
Fast. Some have sent beautiful cards and
telegrams and made offerings at the Mass. All of
these expressions of your love have strengthened
me and I am grateful.
We should all
express our thanks to Senator [Robert] Kennedy
for his constant work on behalf of the poor, for
his personal encouragement to me, and for taking
time to break bread with us today.
I do not want any
of you to be deceived about the Fast. The strict
Fast of water only which I undertook on February
16 ended after the 21st day because of the
advice of our doctor, James McKnight, and other
physicians. Since that time I have been taking
liquids in order to prevent serious damage to my
We are gathered
here today not so much to observe the end of the
Fast but because we are a family bound together
in a common struggle for justice. We are a Union
family celebrating our unity and the nonviolent
nature of our movement. Perhaps in the future we
will come together at other times and places to
break bread and to renew our courage and to
celebrate important victories.
The Fast has had
different meanings for different people.
Some of you may
still wonder about its meaning and importance.
It was not intended as a pressure against any
growers. For that reason we have suspended
negotiations and arbitration proceedings and
relaxed the militant picketing and boycotting of
the strike during this period. I undertook the
Fast because my heart was filled with grief and
pain for the sufferings of farm workers. The
Fast was first for me and then for all of us in
this Union. It was a Fast for nonviolence and a
call to sacrifice.
When we are really
honest with ourselves we must admit that our
lives are all that really belong to us. So it is
how we use our lives that determines what kind
of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only
by giving our lives do we find life. I am
convinced that the truest act of courage, the
strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice
ourselves for others in a totally non-violent
struggle for justice.
To be a man is to
suffer for others. God help us to be men!