The story of Cesar Estrada Chavez begins near Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927. His family made their way to California during the Great Depression, common among Latinos during this time, many of whom sought work.
His family eventually landed in San Jose, in one of the city’s impoverished Latino neighborhoods. Growing up, Chavez experienced prejudice from his white peers, facing racial and ethnic discrimination against people of color.
After these struggles, he dropped out of school at age 15 and began working as a farm laborer. He joined full-time farm work alongside his family until he transitioned into service with the U.S. Navy. Two years in a segregated unit. After his time in the U.S. Navy, he went back home and began to work in a San Jose lumberyard. His first moments of activism started there, as a grassroots organizer for the Latino Civil Rights group, Community Service Organization (CSO).
Eventually, he became the executive director of CSO after 10 years of work in registering new voters and fighting racial/ethnic/economic discrimination. Chavez resigned in 1962, after other members refused to support his efforts to form a labor union for farm workers. This led him to found the National Farm Workers Association.
Chavez knew the struggles of the nation’s poorest and most powerless workers, who labored to put food on the nation’s tables while often going hungry themselves. Without the minimum wage laws, many made as little as 40 cents an hour and did not qualify for unemployment insurance. He knew the discrimination and racial issues.
You might be wondering why Cesar Chavez is important to me, and the answer is because of his impact and non-violent movement.
He founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and the 1965 Grape Strike IN Delano, California, alongside Larry Itliong, Lupe Martinez y Dolores Huerta. The NFWA, later renamed The United Farm Workers (UFW), became the voice of migrant farm workers throughout the United States.
His nonviolent reform, like peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, and pickets lead him to accomplish the following: minimum wage standards, safe working conditions, child labor reform, and advancement in civil rights for Chicanos and other farm workers.
He fought through his life without fighting. Chavez fought for justice in a peaceful way, remarkable to remember, and honor every year.