The Mexican-American and the Church Cesar E. Chavez
The Mexican-American and the Church Cesar E. Chavez, was an first generation Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist in the 1960’s. Growing up, his family, much like many other Mexican-American families, were victim to constant discrimination.
When he was a young boy, his family was forced off their family farm in Arizona and to become migrant workers, constantly fighting homelessness and hunger. This lead Chavez to labor and fight to ensure no other families had to go through the same experience. He would go on to co-found the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta in 1962. At this time in American history, much like African-Americans, Mexican-Americans were not able to pursue the American Dream and were treated like third class citizens. Economic and racial discrimination was just a part of everyday life. Mexican-Americans and Filipino farm workers were being paid less than Braceros, contracted Mexican workers. The wages were $1.25 for Filipino workers and $1.10 for Mexican workers while the braceros were being paid $1.40 wages. The low wages forced poverty onto them. This lead to the initiation of the Delano Grape Strike in September 8th 1965, in which the Filipino and Mexican-American farm workers protested higher wages. In the midst of all this chaos, any turned to the church for guidance, many churches would encourage them to persevere and to continue to work under terrible conditions, many were not allowed lunch breaks, usable bathrooms or drinkable water. The way that Chavez approaches the audience is interesting.
The audience is Mexican-Americans who live in poverty, poor farm workers and the Catholic church itself. He addresses the topic of the relationship between Mexican-American farm workers and both the protestant and catholic church throughout the speech while still speaking to all different audience groups. The purpose of the portion of speech directed at the catholic was to confront and request that the catholic church take part in the peaceful protests instead of shaming their cause by comparing them to the protestant church and to make farm workers aware that it is happening. Cesar also spoke about the influential power of the Catholic church and how it could help the cause, and that its wealth was not being distributed to the poor He reminded them that they are merely servants of God. Chavez directly references the fact that the Protestant California Migrant Ministry are out in the fields helping the migrant workers. And while he states their catholic suspicion of them, he says they had developed a very clear conception of the church. It was called to serve, to be at the mercy of the poor, and not to try to use them. By saying this, he is directly attacking his own congregation. He states that they have a right to appeal to the church and help others, since it was their duty as followers of Christ, to do so and to use the churches power to their benefit, this demonstrates ethos.
Then he appeals to pathos through implementing the emotion of fault into his audience, mainly towards the Catholic Church, by stating that the church is the servant of the poor and it is their fault if the wealth that the church has is not being channeled to the needy. Finally he uses logos through his statement of the church being the only presence and form of God, which is what they are being denied of throughout his efforts of creating a better system for the poor and making sure his supporters are well taken care of. Cesar Chavez uses mostly personal anecdotes throughout his speech, highlighting the work that he’s mostly accomplished, such as forming community organizations and labor unions among farmers. In his anecdotes, he only mentions help coming from outside communities and always having to plead to churches within his community to recognize his social group and their mission, only to get rejected or even ignored by them. This helps him show how uninvolved his own religious community is towards his own actions, which is primarily to help out the poor, even though the church’s main supposed goal is to be the servants of the poor and needy.
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