Cesar Chavez breaks hunger strike with Robert F. Kennedy
Ending his 23-day fast in support of the Union’s strike against grape growers, United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez (R) breaks bread with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in this 1966 photo. Chavez said that Kennedy legitimized his union’s cause by lending his support. On 19th February, 1968, Cesar Chavez, the trade union leader, began a hunger strike in protest against the violence being used against his members in California. Robert F. Kennedy went to the San Joaquin Valley to give Chavez his support and told waiting reporters: “I am here out of respect for one of the heroic figures of our time – Cesar Chavez. I congratulate all of you who are locked with Cesar in the struggle for justice for the farm worker and in the struggle for justice for Spanish-speaking Americans.” On March 10 Robert F. Kennedy flew to California to help Chavez end a 25-day fast, offered as public penance for the violence that had resulted from his union's strike tactics. Chavez, who had lost 35 pounds in 25 days, was too weak to speak at the Mass of Thanksgiving in his honor. But someone read his speech, which included the following words: "It is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are... I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us be men." Note: sources have conflicting start and ending dates of this either 25 or 27 day fast on water only. (UPI Photo/Files)
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