Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, left an indelible mark on the struggle for human dignity. His outrage over the conditions of farm workers and his pursuit of justice for them led to a thirty-year campaign of sacrificial service, solidarity through voluntary poverty, and nonviolent confrontation. In this inspiring look at what motivated Chavez, Frederick Dalton demonstrates convincingly that Catholic social teaching with its overarching emphasis on the human dignity and value of each and every person formed the foundation of his vision. Beginning with the twin truths that farm workers are human beings endowed with dignity and that their suffering is caused by a unjust system, Cesar Chavez set out to change that system, to gain for them a just wage, and to improve their working conditions. This study of character and ethics in practice will be of great interest not only in Christian social ethics courses and Latino studies, but to general readers as well.
Frederick John Dalton is professor of moral theology at Queen of the Holy Rosary College in San Jose, California. He completed his Ph. D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.