Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez; Words of Courage and Inspiration

American Civil Rights Leaders; Chavez and King

American Civil Rights Leaders; Chavez and King

Print page

Who was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and activist, who became the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from 1955  until his death by assassination in 1968. Every January we celebrate the life of a great man. Martin Luther King Junior fought for civil rights for all Americans. He believed all Americans should be treated fairly, no matter what their skin color.

Early Days

Dr. King was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was very smart and skipped two grades in high school. His father was a preacher in the church and he inspired Martin to get a doctor’s degree in theology (religion), from Boston University.

Working as a Civil Rights Leader

Civil Rights are equal social opportunities and protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, etc. Examples are the rights to vote, to a fair trial, to a public education.

Since he was African American, Martin could not go to the same schools as white children. Black Americans also had to use separate restrooms, restaurants, theaters, and swimming pools in some states.

Dr. King thought this was wrong. He was a Christian minister who worked hard for equal rights for Black people. He helped lead peaceful protests to change those unfair laws.

It was a hard fight. Dr. King was attacked and arrested many times. But more and more Americans grew to understand that it was wrong to treat Black people differently from White people.

In 1963, Dr. King led a quarter million people in a march to Washington, D.C. While there, Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke about his hopes for America. He said people should be judged by their hearts, not by their skin color. His efforts helped bring about new laws to create equal rights for all Americans.

Who was Cesar Chavez?

Cesar Chavez was born in 1927 in Arizona. He started the United Farm Workers group. Chavez led marches and protests to get better conditions for farm workers. He died in 1993. Lawmaker Robert Kennedy called Chavez an American hero.

Working In The Fields As A Child

Cesar Chavez was born in 1927 in Arizona. At age 11, his family lost their farm during the Great Depression. They became traveling farmworkers. Chavez and his family moved across California working in the fields. His life was not easy.

Chavez finished his education after the eighth grade and worked in the field full time to help support his family. Chavez joined the U.S. Navy in 1946. He returned from the service in 1948 and married Helen Fabela. Together they settled in San Jose, California, and had eight children.

Making Life Better For Farmworkers

At the age of 35, Chavez had his first regular job. He worked with a group fighting for fair treatment. He helped people sign up to vote and battled against discrimination.

But Chavez’s dream was to help farmworkers. He had been poor. He understood how having no money had hurt farmworkers for many years.

In 1962, he started the National Farm Workers Association. The group later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).  Chavez traveled to farm towns, asking workers to join his group. Many people were afraid to join.

Getting Support For His Mission

Chavez wanted to build a strong union. A union is a group of workers from a single trade. Together, they bargain for things like better pay and work hours. Chavez hoped his union would give power to poor farmworkers.

Chavez learned from leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He adopted their peaceful way of fighting. He made farmworkers promise never to hurt other people.

To win fights, Chavez used marches and protests. Many Americans supported him. They refused to buy grapes and other foods until the growers listened to the workers. This helped the workers win better pay and work hours.

Chavez’s Top Achievements

The UFW won huge victories for farmworkers. It was the first successful farmworkers union in American history.

The group helped farmworkers win new rights. It gave them better lives. Thanks to Chavez, they had more breaks at work. The fields had clean drinking water.

Death And Legacy

Chavez died in his sleep in 1993. More than 50,000 people went to his funeral. 

Chavez liked to say “Si se puede!” This means “Yes, it can be done!” in Spanish. He inspired many people. His birthday is now a holiday in 10 states. Chavez helped regular people do amazing things. He helped people believe in themselves, even if they were poor.

The Wrath of Grapes Boycott 1986

Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez used economic boycotts as a way of peaceful protest.  The boycott is an economic tool to bring about a change.  When people refuse to buy a product or a service because it is unjust then something must change.  In this situation Ceasar Chavez was protesting the use of chemical pesticides on grapes and other fruits.  These fruits are hand picked by latino workers in the field.  The chemicals were causing great harm to the workers and their families.

We have been inspired by Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr whose philosophy of nonviolence and peaceful protests brought positive changes to society. They inspired many people. They helped people believe in themselves.

How have you encouraged someone to believe in themselves?

There is no need to continue when they have asked for forgiveness, the conflict ends when one wants if you keep giving sparks the problem is going to get bigger. – Adolfo


“No matter what battles come your way, never give up on anything. You only live once and patience is key!”  This quote from a very successful Pakistani Cricket player who has become the Prime Minister.   He inspires me because he won the World Cup byt then he took his talents off the pitch to politics.  Today he is encouraging Pakistani citizens to be patient in this time of pandemic and slow economy.  LINK    – Noman

 It is not a belief that everyone will like you, but rather your belief that people like you or not will not affect your personality.

It’s not a belief that everyone will like you, but a belief that people who like or dislike you will not affect your personality.   

Naguib Mahfouz was A famous Egyptian writer Arabic literature.who won the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature .He is regarded as one of the first contemporary writers of Arabic literature. I first heard his encouraging words from my father.  –Youstina

Well, helping in your problems to solve calmly so that you can give confidence and so you can believe in yourself.        

Today students listened to police officers speaking about good relationships in the community.  One of them was born in my home country of El Salvador.  He shared his story.  His message was to stay calm and confident and grateful for the opportunity to be free.   –Jonathan .

3 Police officers speak with students and teachers @ Mountain View 6/2/2021

I have a friend who did not know what he wanted with his life.  I encouraged him by saying that nothing in this life is easy unless you do your part and keep going and never give up, and fight for your Dreams. – Maikol

I believe in you because I want you to know that at least one person in the world does. I know that you can have the life of your dreams.There is this version of you on the inside that is happiness, confidence and success. It’s a version of you overcoming failures, learning from mistakes and living that type of life you want. I believe in you even if you don’t. 

Quote from Kwame Nkrumah, “Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge – a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve – to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man. Dare we ask for more in life? ”

– Sandra O.


I have helped a friend who had problems with her mother. I advised her and encouraged her to see the passes with her because they weren’t talking. 

Encouragement begins at home with family, love and respect.  I encouraged my friend to repair a broken relationship with her mother.  When we work always for the value of family, love and respect we are encouraged to do great things.   -Ana

Oscar Romero was a leader of peace and hope for the Salvadoran family in a time of great violence during the Civil War.