We Are Also Responsible: Cesar Chavez 1971/2008


Public reenactment of a speech given by Chicano labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez at a Vietnam veterans memorial rally at Exposition Park in Los Angeles on May 2, 1971. Chavez speaks about organizing migrant farm workers, the importance of sacrifice for justice, and offering youth an alternative to violence and war. Ricardo Dominguez delivered the speech at Exosition Park on July 19, 2008.


“Activism seemed futile when, despite the hundreds of thousands of people flooding into city streets around the world in protest before the invasion of Iraq, the ill-fated war went on. Yet there’s a difference between old models based on mass culture, which had their zenith in the 1960s era of these original speeches, and the new ‘niche culture’ of our high-tech present. Mass culture is effectively over. The possibility for closing the contemporary gap between activism and the individual is underway in the netroots—activist blogs and other online communities, including artistic ones.”

-Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, September 2008

Quotes from speech:


"It would be easy to put all the blame on the generals and the police and the growers and the other bosses. Or on violence in TV or the movies or war toys. But we are also responsible. Some husbands prove to their children that might makes right by the way they beat on their own wives. Most of us honor violence in one way or another, in sports if not at home. We insist on our own way, grab for security and trample on other people in the process... And so too often our sons go off to war grasping for their manhood at the end of a gun and trained to work and to sacrifice for war."


"For the poor it is a terrible irony that they should rise out of their misery to do battle against other poor people when the same sacrifices could be turned against the causes of their poverty. But what have we done to demonstrate another way? Talk is cheap and our young people know it best of all. It is the way we organize and use our lives every day that tells what we believe in."


Reenactment info:

6:00 PM, Saturday, July 19, 2008
South Lawn, Exposition Park, Los Angeles
Presented by CREATIVE TIME with LACE

Production stills

Transcript of original 1971 speech by Cesar Chavez
Adobe Acrobat Document 32.0 KB
Reenactment Flyer
Adobe Acrobat Document 180.0 KB
Reenactment Flyer en Español
Adobe Acrobat Document 180.6 KB