Who was Cesar Chavez?
Cesar Estrada Chavez was one of the greatest labor leaders in
the United States. He fought for a better life for migrant farm
workers. In 1962, he founded the first successful farm workers'
union. It was called the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA).
He led strikes and boycotts, and he fasted to gain support for
Here is a Cesar Chavez
March 31, 1927: Cesar
was born on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona. He was a second generation
1938: Cesar's father
lost his farm. The Chavez family moved to California, and became
migrant farm workers. This meant they moved around and picked
different foods depending on the season.
1942: Cesar graduated
from the eighth grade and worked in the fields full-time. He realized
the owners and contractors exploited migrant farm workers.
1944-1945: Cesar joined
the United States Navy and fought in the Western Pacific during
World War II. After the war, he returned to California, and continued
working as a migrant farm worker.
1947: Cesar joined
the National Agricultural Workers Union.
1948: Cesar married
1952: Cesar and his
family moved to East San Jose, California, and settled in the
barrio of Sal Si Puedes ("Get Out If You Can"). He began working
for the Community Service Organization (CSO). He organized farm
workers to vote and became the National Director. This was Cesar's
first regular paying job.
1962: Cesar resigned
his position with CSO to focus on helping migrant farm workers.
He founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). Cesar
traveled to dozens of farm communities in California to build
his base of dedicated farm workers. Cesar and the NFWA used non-violent
means (strikes, boycotts, and fasting) to accomplish their goals.
September, 1965: the
NFWA joined a strike started by the Agricultural Workers Organizing
Committee (AWOC). They demanded higher wages for migrant workers
from the grape growers. "Huelga" means strike in Spanish. The
strike lasted five years, and the grape growers agreed to sign
contracts. Farm workers were given higher pay, family health coverage,
pension benefits, and other contract protections. This was the
largest strike in the history of U.S. labor.
April 23, 1993: Cesar
Chavez died in San Luis, Arizona. He was 66 years old.
August 8, 1994: Cesar
posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is
the highest civilian honor in the United States.
September 2, 1994:
the Cesar Chavez Holiday bill was passed in California. March
31 is designated as Cesar Chavez Day. It is a state holiday to
promote service to the communities of California in honor of Cesar's
life and work.
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