Chavez, “Nomination Address for Governor Jerry Brown,” Speech Text

CESAR CHAVEZ, NOMINATION ADDRESS FOR GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION (14 July 1976)

[1] Buenos Noches.  A todos mis hermanos de la habla Espanol.

Brothers and Sisters:

[2] We bring greetings from California, greetings from the men, women and children who toil in the fields to bring our daily food to our tables.

[3] There’s a great task to be done in this nation.  First, we have to set a goal.  We have to give people a sense of purpose.

[4] There’s a great deal to do.  We need to construct instead of destroy.  We need to inspire hope in the people for the future.

[5] Right now we have millions of people unable to find work.  That inability to find work destroys the spirit.  We have men, women, and youth who are skilled, who have energy and ideals, looking for work, and all they get are hand-outs.

[6] Hand-outs!  Imagine how stifling that can be to the spirit.

[7] Or they get make-work, busy-work.  This is just as bad.  It makes people feel of no purpose.  It makes people feel useless.

[8] Others suggest that only technology can solve our problems.  But too often technology means drudgery.  It means turning human beings into robots.  Imagine how many people in America today find no purpose in their daily work.  Imagine how crippling that can be.

[9] Human beings are unique because they are creative.  When we stifle that creativity, we destroy the individual’s spirit.  We need to give workers a voice.  Let them be creative at their place of work.  Not only will that enrich their lives, but it will benefit us all.

[10] We need work that improves the quality of life, for this type of work is the cornerstone of human dignity.  And because people are important, working for people–even sacrificing a little bit for them–brings much meaning to one’s life.

[11] There is so much meaningful work to be done!  And so many people unemployed!

[12] Think of the thousands of people who are bedridden with sores on their backs because there’s no one to turn them.

[13] Think of the older people who are abandoned, who need a cup of water, who need a warm meal, but have no one to give them help.

[14] Think about the countless children who have to be cared for, who can be trained, educated and given a purpose and love.

[15] What about housing, what about rebuilding our cities, what about mass transit!  And what could be more meaningful than providing decent health care for everyone in America?

[16] What could have more purpose than working to end the use of narcotics?  What could be more joyful than working to restore and preserve the sacredness of land, water and air?

[17] For patriotism is not protecting the land of our fathers, but preserving the land for our children.

[18] But we know that only when we feel that that street is our street, when we feel that that river is our river, and we know that this land is our land, only then will we take care of them, and only then will we be able to deal with those problems.

[19] People are the best answer to solving their own problems.  Until our government hears the voices of those with problems, all the people, we will never be able to solve those problems and more and more people will be turned off.

[20] Not until we truly feel that government, this government, is our government—not until we feel truly that it’s our government—will we be able to have that as an instrument to be able to meet the problems and give power to the people.

[21] We have an example.  For years and years millions of dollars were dumped into the farm workers problems in California and never solved anything until we were able to get a governor in California who listened to us and gave farm workers an instrument—collective bargaining—so the workers can begin to deal with their own problems.  Not until then did we start making headway.

[22] And that example in California is an example that can be applied across this land.

[23] We need a leader that understands these problems.  We need a leader to challenge, we need a leader to lead by example, to sacrifice.  We need a leader who is not afraid to ask questions.  We need a leader.

[24] And brothers and sisters, this is why we place in nomination the name of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. for President of the United States of America.

[25] Thank you very much.

Chavez, Cesar. “Transcription of Nomination Address by Cesar Chavez to Democratic National Convention July 14, 1976.”  Jacques El Levy Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.  [=A]

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