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Rock Street, San Francisco

Religion played a substantial role in challenging the status quo for Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar E. Chavez. This essay portrays how these figures were leading the moment for equality in the Civil Rights and the Farm Labor Movements. I allege that King’s letter was more emphatic because his piece was more silver-tongued, strong willed, and best of all very honest and straight forward.

Cesar E. Chavez was a Mexican-American labor activist that founded the United Farm Workers labor union (UFW), to help protect the rights of migrant workers. He enticed national attention to the cause by coordinating nonviolent protests such as hunger strikes. Chavez attempted to make people aware of the farmers’ struggles for better pay and safer working conditions through nonviolent tactics such as boycotts, pickets, and strikes. He directs the audience to engage the poor directly. Chavez also states that “often the money is spent for food baskets for the needy instead of for effective action to eradicate the causes of poverty.”

Martin Luther King Jr., was an American Baptists Minister and social activist. He played a major role in the civil rights movement. King sought racial equality for African Americans through tranquil, non-violent protests. While incarcerated in Birmingham, he wrote a letter in response to criticism of eight clergy men. Although it is addressed to the clergymen, it is subliminally directed to the attention of white men as a statement of universal justice for all men. According to King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” By that, I feel, he depicts that all the indirect injustices forced upon African Americans have a direct impact on all men of all races everywhere.

Chavez expressed that the religious community had a moralistic obligation to help the migrant community. “Since the Church is to be servant to the poor, it is our fault if that wealth is not channeled to help the poor in our world.” He states in his speech that the church is a very wealthy and powerful institution and therefore should be used to eradicate poverty. They weren’t even allowed to use the Catholic church at their disposal for meetings. The Protestants on the other hand, were quick to join in and offer a helping hand and ask for nothing in return. Chavez states that “they had developed a very clear conception of the Church. It was called to serve, to be at the mercy of the poor, and not to try to use them.”

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