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Farm workers remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Excerpts from a telegram from Dr. King to Cesar Chavez.
01/16/2016


"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 in determination that our dreams for a better...
Farm workers remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Cesar Chavez closely followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s career since the 1950s Montgomery bus boycott. Whenever newspapers carried accounts of Dr. King's battles in the South, the stories "would jump out of the pages at me," Cesar would later recall. Dr. King reaffirmed Cesar's commitment to nonviolent struggle and inspired the boycott of grapes and other products.

Although the two never met, they corresponded. At the end of his life, Dr. King preached that genuine equality was not possible without economic equality.

"What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't have enough money to buy a hamburger?" Dr. King declared.

Only one month before his death, Dr. King joined in solidarity by sending a telegram to Cesar, who was then fasting for 25 days in Delano, Calif. to rededicate his farm workers' movement to the principles of nonviolence practiced by M.K. Gandhi and Dr. King.

In September, 1966, Dr. King sent a telegram to the farm labor leader: "As brothers in the fight for equality, I extend the hand of fellowship and good will and wish continuing success to you and your members...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 in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized."

Cesar was in Sacramento, Calif. campaigning for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's presidential drive, when it was announced that Dr. King had been shot

"The spirit doesn't die," Cesar said. "The ideas remain." We study them and apply them, "and they're alive."