Good morning, it's Friday, January 22, 2021, the day of the week when I reprise a quotation meant to be inspiring or elucidating. Today, I will offer three, all from the same man: United Farm Workers founder César Chávez. It is not a random choice. As of Wednesday, President Biden's first day on the job, a bust of the great UFW leader is on display in the Oval Office.
United Farm Workers union leader and founder César Estrada Chávez, whom I was honored to march with as a boy and break bread with as an adult, was born in 1927, two years before Martin Luther King Jr. Chavez was inspired by the Rev. King, and he adapted the language and philosophy of nonviolent resistance to the labor movement. Although the two never met in person, King admired Chávez and told him so in two telegrams. The first was sent in 1966, the year Chávez led the UFW on its famous march from Delano to Sacramento. The second arrived about a month before King's assassination. "I am deeply moved by your courage in fasting as your personal sacrifice for justice through non-violence," King wrote. "Your past and present commitment is eloquent testimony to the constructive power of non-violent action and the destructive impotence of violent reprisal."
In that spirit, I offer three observations from César Chávez himself, courtesy of the UFW archives:
-- Violence just hurts those who are already hurt. … Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it."
-- "Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures."
-- "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."
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.