LEARNING GUIDE FOR:
CESAR CHAVEZ: RESPECT FOR ALL
Created by educators for educators to use in the classroom, this movie is the first film produced by TeachWithMovies.org.
SUBJECTS — U.S. 1945 - current, Diversity; Hispanic-Americans &
Age: 10+; Not Rated; (would be G); Documentary; 2018; 22 minutes; Color. Available FREE on the Internet.
Description: Cesar Chavez (1927 - 1993) is the United States' best-known Latino-American leader, remembered as being the head of the United Farm Workers ("UFW"). Chavez and the UFW sought higher pay and better working conditions in an industry that traditionally paid less than a living wage and made its employees work long days in the heat or cold, without breaks, without adequate water, and without toilet facilities.
Cesar Chavez was a deeply religious Catholic and developed his prescient positions on women, gays, lesbians, and animals by applying the Christian ethic of love and respect for all. He was also a disciple of the Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi, who was a vegetarian and an advocate of promoting social change through nonviolent direct action.
Cesar Chavez: Respect for All invites the viewer to take a journey of discovery with Genesis Palacio Butler, a 9-year-old girl of African-American, Apache, and Hispanic descent. The Hispanic comes from her mother, who is the grandniece of Cesar Chavez.
Rationale for Using the Movie: Cesar Chavez: Respect for All
Possible Problems: None.
LEARNING GUIDE MENU
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING
CESAR CHAVEZ: RESPECT FOR ALL IN THE CLASSROOM
Check for Prior Knowledge: Before showing the film, teachers can ask the class selected prompts such as "What do you know about Cesar Chavez" and "Which groups are struggling for/demanding rights today? What do you think about their demands?"
Historical Background — America in the Second Half of the 20th Century
Advanced Students Can Read the Handout: Before watching the film, high school or advanced middle school classes can read TWM's student handout, Cesar Chavez and the Meaning of Respect. (Click here for a Microsoft Word version. Click here for a pdf version.) The movie will serve to emphasize and confirm the lessons in the handout.
For teachers who want to use a lecture format, TWM suggests the following which tracks the text of the student handout:
Suggested Direct Instruction
Make sure that students are familiar with the economic and social conditions in the U.S. in the second half of the 20th Century. Below are a few points that students should understand in order to fully appreciate this film and the vision of Cesar Chavez.
At the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, America and its allies had recently defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The U.S. was one of two great superpowers. While it was locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, the U.S. had never been more powerful or more preeminent in the world.
Visual Learning Exercise — Cesar Chavez' Rejection of the Concept of "the Other"
A key to Chavez's philosophy of respect for all was his refusal to see certain people and even animals as "the Other." That is, he believed that all types of people and sentient animals were deserving of our moral concern. Before watching the film, teachers might want to have students create a concentric circle diagram setting out the various levels of moral concern that they have for others. At the end of the lesson, this process can be repeated and any changes — or the decision not to make a change — can be discussed. Having their positions and beliefs discussed and challenged in a respectful framework will elevate students' thinking on the issue of "the Other."
Ask students to create a diagram of concentric circles with themselves at the center. In each successive ring, they should place other people or sentient beings in decreasing levels of moral concern the further they are from the center. So, for example, most people will place their family in one of the closer rings; however, people for whom they do not care, will occupy an outer ring. Students should label occupants of each ring. Outside of the diagram are those who deserve no moral consideration at all, such as vermin or, perhaps, serial killers. Teachers should give students the "phrase bank"set out below. Teachers should feel free to add or subtract categories. Some categories will play no role in the diagram, for example, race, gender, religion or country of origin.
After Watching the Film
If the class has not read the Student Handout or received the direct instruction, teachers can relate some of the interesting anecdotes in those materials such as the facts about why "respect" was so important to Cesar Chavez and how he came to apply to concept of respect to non-human animals when the Union gave him Boycott.
Be sure to tell the class that Cesar Chavez was a fighter, although he never would never physically hurt anyone. He organized strikes and boycotts to force the growers to pay higher wages and provide better working conditions. He worked in his communities to get people to register to vote and then he fought in political campaigns for candidates who would pass laws to give rights to farmworkers.
Then ask the question of what led Cesar Chavez to move from his anger about how his family was treated when he was growing up and his experiences with racism, to respect for people of all races and religions, for women, for gays and lesbians, and for animals. Guidelines for Class Discussion: There are a number of valid responses. These include: (1) he believed in the ethical principle of reciprocity taught by all major religions and in the Judeo/Christian religions as the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." or "Love they neighbor as thyself." Chavez was an observant Catholic who tried to apply the ethical principles of the Christian religion; (2) a realization that you cannot demand respect for your group without giving respect to others; and (3) except with respect to animals, a practical need to gain allies.
Additional Helpful Information
Click here to see Genesis' seven-minute TEDx talk.
The full text of Chavez' speech that Genesis and her sister (and their dog) watch in a scene in the movie is set out below. The speech was given in 1993 when Chavez was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by an organization called In Defense of Animals. Note his repeated use of the word "respect." In this short statement, given within a year of his death, Cesar Chavez sets out the ultimate expression of the philosophy that informed his life.
We need in a special way to work twice as hard to make all people understand that animals are fellow creatures; that we must protect them and love them as we love ourselves. And that the basis for peace is respecting all creatures. We cannot hope to have peace until we respect everyone, respect ourselves and all living beings.
FUN FACT: Chavez also practiced meditation and yoga. Visitors to Cesar's office would sometimes find him standing on his head in a yoga position.
1. What does respect mean? Suggested Response: One definition is "esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person." Teachers can guide the discussion toward the idea that there are two different parts of the concept of respect. The first is the equivalent of "deserving of moral consideration." It is the basic respect to which people have a right just because they are alive. For example, everyone has the right to bodily integrity – the right to be free from assault or injury. They have the right to freedom of movement, within certain limits. In the U.S. citizens have additional basic rights, such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Other rights granted to citizens, just because they are deserving of moral consideration, are in the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, etc. Noncitizens also have some rights under the Constitution, such as equal protection of the laws.
The second type of respect is earned. The right to have authority over other people, either moral or legal, is one that is earned. A wise person's opinion is respected. We say that we have respect for a person because he or she has many accomplishments.
Another way to start this discussion is to ask "Does respect have to be earned or is it a given to all?"2. What role does respect play in your family? Do your parents or siblings demand respect? Suggested Response: There is no one correct response to the question. Students from Hispanic families may say that they are expected to address their fathers with the words, "¿Que manda?" literally, "What do you command?" They may say that the basis for their relationship with the head of their household is respect. While respect is in the foreground in these families, love will also be there. In other families, it is the love that is in the foreground with the requirement of respect being important but not primary and not as formalized.
3. What does an oppressed group have to do to gain respect? Suggested Response: There is no one way. Gandhi and the Indians used nonviolent mass action to gain independence from the British Empire. The U.S. Civil Rights movement used many of the tactics developed by Gandhi. Cesar Chavez employed strikes, picket lines, and enlisted people all over the country to boycott table grapes. Speaking out and using a hash tag can also work, as is happening with the #metoo movement.
NOTE TO TEACHERS: The following questions are designed to lead the class to understand and internalize two concepts exemplified by the life and leadership of Cesar Chavez:4. When an industry insists that its workers perform exhausting mind-numbing repetitive work for 12 hours a day in the heat and the cold, without providing sanitary facilities and without providing adequate water, what does this show about the attitudes of the employers toward the workers? Suggested Response: There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes the concept that it shows disrespect for the humanity of the workers.(1) Respect is the underlying ethical basis of all rights movements; and
5. What is the problem with sexism? Suggested Response: There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes lack of respect for women, that it demeans women, that it treats women as sexual objects, and that it denies them opportunity for full self-realization.
6. What was the relationship between Cesar Chavez' advocacy for farmworkers and his advocacy for [ask each one separately: (1) gay rights; (2) women in the workplace; (3) a plant-based diet and animal rights]. Suggested Response: There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes concept that Cesar Chavez believed that the members of these groups deserved respect and that Chavez saw that one cannot demand respect for his own people while tolerating disrespect for others.
7. We've been speaking of people by classifying them into broad groups such as "women," "gays," "farmworkers," "Hispanics." Can you think of a problem in using these broad-brush categories, and if so, what is it? Suggested Response: The problem with these classifications is that they: (1) ignore or minimize the great individual differences between people and (2) they ignore the fact that all people belong to many different groups, or as some call them, modern-day "tribes." A person who is a farmworker can also be a father, a talented artist, a person who loves to dance, etc. A Hispanic person can be all of those things and a doctor, an accomplished swimmer, and a woodworker. Those people will have many things in common with other fathers, artists, dancers, doctors, swimmers and woodworkers. Often, these chosen identities are as important or more important to the individual than their national origin, their sexual orientation, or their job. So, we all need to remember the incompleteness of descriptions such as African-American, Hispanic, Jewish, Evangelical, white, black, brown, Asian etc.
8. When Cesar Chavez said, "I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do" what ethical principle was he applying to animals? Suggested Response: There are several possible responses. Steer the discussion so that it includes the concept that he believed that they deserved respect as beings who can feel. In the discussion it also might be helpful to inform the class that utilitarianism is a branch of philosophy that is based on the idea that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Miriam Webster Dictionary. Most vegetarians and vegans in the U.S. cite Peter Singer, a utilitarian philosopher, who formulated the choice as follows. People can get adequate nourishment from a plant-based diet, the only deficiency might be in Vitamin B-12 which can be easily supplied by a vitamin supplement. Thus, the only reason to eat meat or dairy is because we like its taste and texture. However, when people eat meat, farm animals are subjected to great pain. Their babies are taken away, their living conditions are often terrible, and they suffer an early, often painful, death. When animals are respected and their interests taken into account, the balance of pleasure over pain falls heavily against eating meat or dairy. See Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Another way to describe this concept is Jeremy Bentham's famous formulation, " . . . [T]he question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" TWM is not suggesting that teachers advocate for this idea, but only that students should be aware of it.
9. What is the unifying concept among the various ethical stances of Cesar Chavez? Suggested Response: The ethical principle of respect for all sentient beings.
10. Before he was murdered in 1968, a national leader wrote a telegram to Cesar Chavez referring to Chavez' efforts to help farmworkers. He wrote:
Our separate struggles are really one. A struggle for freedom, for dignity, and for humanity. . . . You and your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forced upon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.Who was this man? Do you agree or disagree with what he wrote? Does this also apply to the other causes that Cesar Chavez championed — gay and lesbian rights, respect for women in the workplace, prohibition of child labor in the fields, and respect for animals? Suggested Response: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote this in a telegram the Cesar Chavez. There is no one correct response to the second part of the question. The purpose is to get students to debate it. Note that Cesar Chavez said, "Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."
Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:
1. Draw a concentric circle diagram setting out the scope of moral consideration for the following: Cesar Chavez, Vladimir Putin, and yourself.
2. Cesar Chavez conducted two long fasts. Research his first fast and describe the Gandhian antecedents of this effort.
3. Write an essay on the importance of "respeto" (also sometimes spelled "respecto") in traditional Hispanic culture and about Cesar's view of that concept as shown by his insistence of respect for farmworkers and the respect that he had for others.
4. In his late teens or early 20s Cesar Chavez flirted with the zoot suit Pachuco culture in Los Angeles. Research the Pachucos and the zoot suiters. What were they looking for from the larger society, and how did that relate to Cesar's later work for the farmworkers? Note to Teachers: A well-thoughtout essay will conclude that the Pachucos wanted to be respected and wanted their Hispanic culture to be respected. While many Pachucos moved into the gang culture, Cesar moved on from the zoot suiters to demand respect through community organizing.
Closing Exercise -- Cesar Chavez: Respect and Rejection of the Concept of "the Other"
Throughout history, people have suffered and died because they were classified as different in some way — as "the Other." Race, gender, cultural background, country of origin, religion, and sexual orientation have all been used to justify separation, deprivation, discrimination, harassment, assault, rape, and murder. Chavez respected all people and, indeed, all animate life. All the differences among people were irrelevant to him; every individual was deserving of moral consideration.
At the end end of the lesson ask students if they want to change their diagram of "The Universe of Moral Concern," and if so, in what way and for what reasons. Have students also draw what they think Cesar's diagram would be, or discuss it as a class.
What could change if everyone moves closer to the center? Another option: Draw Cesar's and students' moral universes as a Venn diagram without concentric circles. Ask: what are the overlapping areas?
Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." An additional exercise would have students make a diagram for their parents or grandparents's moral consideration and discuss any differences between those and their own. Also, students can graph other leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King - or even Emma Gonzalez!
Cesar Chavez: Pro Immigrant — Anti Strikebreaker
Get the real story of Chavez' position on immigration. He was for immigrants, helping them get their citizenship so that they could VOTE! He was against people brought over from Mexico to be strike breakers. Click here!.
Bridges to Reading:
Sal Si Puedes by Peter Matthiessen.
Links to the Internet:
(Anchor Standards only)
Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: "Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.") CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.
Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.
Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 - 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.
Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.
Selected Awards, Cast and Director:
Selected Awards: None yet.
Featured Actors: The following people play themselves: Genesis Palacio Butler, Genelle Palacio Butler, Anthony Butler, Paul Chavez, Arturo Rodriguez, Marc Grossman.
Director: Glenn Scott Lacey
The film is self-authenticating containing interviews with people who knew Cesar Chavez and film clips of his speeches. See also the web sites referred to in this Learning Guide.
Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!
This Learning Guide written by James Frieden and Deborah Elliott and was published on March 8, 2018 and most recently revised on July 7, 2018.
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