The preface to Mighty Hard Road includes an excerpt from a composition written by a young boy, the son of a farm worker. The boy writes:Cesar Chávez is our leader. When he was a small boy he had to get out of school to work in the fields with his parents. Ever since then he dreamed of making a big strike so that parents could get more for working and the children of farm workers wouldn’t have to miss school like he did.
These words emphasize the book’s main theme and objectives. As a Hispanic American, Chávez endured hatred and prejudice. As a migrant worker, he lived in poverty, knew hunger, and was not able to obtain a formal education. The authors suggest, however, that Chávez possessed many characteristics, such as strong values, courage, humility, a charismatic personality, and determination, that made it possible for him to overcome many barriers.
Chávez’s values had a strong influence on the character of the farm workers’ movement. Terzian and Cramer suggest that Chávez was profoundly influenced by works advocating nonviolence, such as the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and Christian literature. Chávez was an admirer of Martin Luther King, Jr., and some of the strategies used by the farm workers were borrowed from the Civil Rights movement. To demonstrate his commitment to nonviolence, Chávez fasted as a form of protest against the intransigence of growers.
While the primary focus of the book is on Chávez and the farm workers’ movement, young readers will gain a sense of some of the major issues and events that occurred...
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Mighty Hard Road is one of the few biographies of Chávez available for young people within this age group. A book by Florence M. White, Cesar Chavez: Man of Courage (1973), is aimed at a younger audience. Jan Young’s book The Migrant Workers and Cesar Chavez (1972) focuses more explicitly on the farm labor movement itself. Chávez is depicted as a role model for children. The book emphasizes the importance of education but retains an optimism that one can accomplish goals despite humble beginnings. The book may provide a positive example for Hispanic-American children, as Chávez devoted himself selflessly to the cause of his people, as well as to the cause of farm workers in general.
Mighty Hard Road also offers to young people a history lesson about the difficulties that labor unions have encountered in the United States as they have attempted to organize workers. While the text does not make reference to labor unions in a historical context, it may be viewed as providing a case study of the issues that labor unions faced in the twentieth century.
The book is significant because it focuses on a figure whose leadership caught the imagination and gained the support of many politicians and celebrities during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Chávez is portrayed as a heroic figure by virtue of his accomplishments and his selfless dedication to a worthy cause. Many Hispanics continue to fight discrimination as they try to obtain important positions in politics and business. This biography of Chávez is important because it offers to young people one example of the contributions made by a Hispanic American and a great leader.