Research Paper: Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. The Power of Nonviolent Resistance

Essay by tstokes429A, May 2006

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History is made up of significant events that shape our future and outstanding leaders who influence our destiny. Both of these men have much in common. They fought for the oppressed; primarily the major target group or segment, which they represent, was reflective of their own ethnic backgrounds. However, of the two, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a more universal type of peace. Not only did he want to desegregate public facilities, he sought civil rights and liberties for all. Chavez took the examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Ghandi and made them his own. He used their examples of nonviolent protest to bring about change in his own advocacies.

Cesar Estrada Chavez was born March 31, 1927 near Yuma, Arizona. He was named after his grandfather, who escaped from slavery on a Mexican ranch and arrived in Arizona during the 1880s. His grandparents homesteaded more than one hundred acres in the Gila Valley and raised 14 children.

Chavez' father, Librado, started his family in 1924 when he married Juana Estrada. Cesar was the second of their six children. Librado worked on the family ranch and owned a store in the Gila Valley. His family lived in an apartment above the store.

Chavez began school when he was seven, but he had a hard time learning because his family only spoke Spanish. Chavez preferred to learn from his uncles and grandparents, who would read to him in Spanish. In addition, Chavez learned many things from his mother. She believed violence and selfishness were wrong, and she taught these lessons to her children.

In the 1930s, Chavez' father lost his business because of the Great Depression, and the family moved back to the ranch. However in 1937, a severe drought forced the family to give up...