SSWC Cesar

Stone Soup Leadership Institute’s Educational Curriculum
By Giving Our Lives, We Find Life

Following the tradition of his hero, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez became one of the greatest Hispanic leaders of our time. In the 1960’s, he organized the famous grape boycott and invited average Americans to stop eating grapes so migrant farm workers could have a better life. In this story, he demonstrates his leadership by fasting as an act of penitence, inspiring his own people to turn away from violent revenge for past abuses. “The truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice,” Cesar told them. “Only by giving our lives do we find life.”

Reflection Questions

1. Do you know anyone who participated in the grape boycott? Ask them to tell their story.

2. Cesar Chavez believed that leadership required sacrifice. What do you think about that?

3. Cesar fasted for 25 days. Why? What did he accomplish by taking such strong action?

4. How do you measure success? Do you think that Cesar Chavez was a successful man?

5. What creative alternatives do you know to deal with our own and other people’s anger?

 Qualities and Values

• Non-Violence        • Tolerance      • Courage         • Sacrifice        • Humility        • Leadership

 Lessons You Can Learn

1. Young people can learn from and listen to leaders who set a good example by their actions

2. We can reach people by the actions we take and the personal sacrifices we make.

3. We can replace the culture of fighting back by practicing the power of non-violence.

4. When we have a difference of opinion, we can discuss our differences and respect others.

5. Economic boycotts can be effective to increase awareness, gain support and create change.


Language Arts and Social Studies
• Read and watch the PBS documentary: Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Movement by Susan Ferris and Ricardo Sandoval.

• Research 1965 newspapers on the grape boycott. Write a report including who was involved, what was the response from the grape growers, which papers wrote editorials, how many cities/states were supportive and what was accomplished.
• Investigate the differences of local farms and corporately-owned farms in America.
• Create a list of other Latino leaders who have made a difference in this country.

Social Studies
• Support United Farm Workers’ voter registration efforts to elect supportive officials.
• Research how those in the civil rights movement supported the farm workers in ‘60’s.
• Learn about UFW’s efforts to create a national day honoring Cesar Chavez (
They also offer a complete bibliography and biographies on Chavez.• Research the National Labor Relations Act and farm worker involvement.

• Research the lives of community organizers in Latino countries like Mexico, Central and South America. Write a report on how they improved the quality of life for their people.

Community Service

• California is the first state to honor Cesar Chavez by creating a Day of Service and Learning for his birthday. On March 31, join with people who are carrying on his legacy with conservation, human service, culture and arts and community improvement projects.

This story is featured on the Stone Soup for the World audiotape and videotape.