César E. Chávez
César E. Chávez (born César Estrada Chávez, March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW).
A Mexican American, Chávez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. However, by the mid-1980s membership in the UFW had dwindled to around 15,000.
After his death he became a major historical icon for the Latino community, organized labor, and liberal movement, symbolizing support for workers and for Hispanic power based on grass roots organizing and his slogan “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, one can” or, roughly, “Yes, it can be done”). His supporters say his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. His birthday, March 31, has become César Chávez Day, a state holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas.
The Story of César Chávez
The story of César Estrada Chávez begins near Yuma, Arizona. Cesar was born on March 31, 1927. He was named after his grandfather, Cesario. Regrettably, the story of César E. Chávez also ends near Yuma, Arizona. He passed away on April 23, 1993, in San Luis, a small village near Yuma, Arizona.
He learned about justice or rather injustice early in his life. César grew up in Arizona; the small adobe home, where César was born was swindled from them by dishonest Anglos. César’s father agreed to clear eighty acres of land and in exchange he would receive the deed to forty acres of land that adjoined the home. The agreement was broken and the land sold to a man named Justus Jackson. César’s dad went to a lawyer who advised him to borrow money and buy the land. Later when César’s father could not pay the interest on the loan the lawyer bought back the land and sold it to the original owner. César learned a lesson about injustice that he would never forget. Later, he would say, The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature.
In 1938 he and his family moved to California. He lived in La Colonia Barrio in Oxnard for a short period, returning to Arizona several months later. They returned to California in June 1939 and this time settled in San Jose. They lived in the barrio called Sal Si Puedes -“Get Out If You Can.” César thought the only way to get out of the circle of poverty was to work his way up and send the kids to college. He and his family worked in the fields of California from Brawley to Oxnard, Atascadero, Gonzales, King City, Salinas, McFarland, Delano, Wasco, Selma, Kingsburg, and Mendota.
César Chávez Day
César E. Chávez’s birthday, March 31, is celebrated in California, Colorado, and Texas as a state holiday, intended to promote service to the community in honor of Chávez ‘s life and work. Many, but not all, state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed. Many public schools in the state are also closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona and Colorado. Although it is not a federal holiday, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 31 as “César Chávez “ in the United States, with Americans being urged to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy”.
- César Chávez Legacy | The White House
- César E. Chávez – biography, vision, speeches and articles
- Remarks by the President at the Dedication of the César Chávez National Monument, Keene, CA
- Communities Commemorate César Chávez through Service and Learning
US Govt & Indigenous Peoples Timeline 1819-2014 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)