Cesar Chavez was born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona. Grandson of a migrant farm worker from Mexico, he toiled in the fields of California himself for years until becoming an organizer and labor-rights advocate for migrant farm workers.
Through the 1960s he organized fellow migrant workers. After just six months 300 members of the Nat’l Farm Workers Union met at Fresno, CA, and “La Causa” was born … the first ever farm workers union, which became in 1973 the UFW – United Farm Workers of America whose insignia was the “Black Eagle.”
In 1965 Chavez called a strike against the California Grape Growers which attracted national attention and the cooperation of millions of shoppers. After bitter and sometimes violent disputes, in which Chavez and a number of other union leaders were jailed, in 1970 many grape growers signed agreements with the UFW and the grape boycott ended.
He grew up among the overworked, underpaid, exploited, powerless migrant farm workers who lived and labored in conditions of poverty and toxicity from pesticides shocking to a society which should have known better. He was one of them and he never left them. More than anything, his personal example should remind us that more is possible than most of us imagine. He is remembered for helping farm workers, but his cause was humanity — calling the powerful to conscience as well as giving a voice to the powerless.
Cesar Chavez was a charismatic and totally dedicated labor organizer, committed to economic justice for all workers and to the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is a great American hero.
Cesar Chavez died April 23, 1993.