Cesar Chavez 1927-1993
Cesar Estrada Chavez was born, and died, in Arizona, U.S.
Chavez' life project was the fight for
fellow farm workers. In 1962, he created NFWA, which stands for the
National Farm Workers Association.
This organization grew into the United
Farm Workers Organizing Committee in 1966, and then into the United
Farm Workers of America in 1971.
In 1994, posthumously, Chavez received
the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Barack Obama declared March 31, 2010,
Cesar Chavez Day.
And here is Obama's Proclamation:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2010
Presidential Proclamation - Cesar Chavez
The rights and benefits working
Americans enjoy today were not easily gained; they had to be
won. It took generations of courageous men and women, fighting
to secure decent working conditions, organizing to demand fair
pay, and sometimes risking their lives. Some, like Cesar Estrada
Chavez, made it the cause of their lives. Today, on what would
have been his 83rd birthday, we celebrate Cesar's legacy and the
progress achieved by all who stood alongside him.
Raised by a family of migrant farm workers, Cesar Chavez spent
his youth moving across the American Southwest, working in
fields and vineyards, and experiencing firsthand the hardships
he would later crusade to abolish. At the time, farm workers
were deeply impoverished and frequently exploited, exposed to
very hazardous working conditions, and often denied clean
drinking water, toilets, and other basic necessities. The union
Cesar later founded with Dolores Huerta, the United Farm Workers
of America (UFW), still addresses these issues today.
After serving in the United States Navy, Cesar Chavez became a
community organizer and began his lifelong campaign for civil
rights and social justice. Applying the principles of
nonviolence, he empowered countless laborers, building a
movement that grew into the UFW. He led workers in marches,
strikes, and boycotts, focusing our Nation's attention on their
plight and using the power of picket lines to win union
"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," Cesar
Chavez once said. Since our Nation's earliest days of
independence, we have struggled to perfect the ideals of equal
justice and opportunity enshrined in our founding documents. As
Cesar suggests, justice may be true to our nature, but as
history teaches us, it will not prevail unless we defend its
Few Americans have led this charge so tirelessly, and for so
many, as Cesar Chavez. To this day, his rallying cry -- "Sí, se
puede," or "Yes, we can," -- inspires hope and a spirit of
possibility in people around the world. His movement
strengthened our country, and his vision lives on in the
organizers and social entrepreneurs who still empower their
neighbors to improve their communities.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States
of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby
proclaim March 31, 2010, as Cesar Chavez Day. I call upon all
Americans to observe this day with appropriate service,
community, and education programs to honor Cesar Chavez's
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand
ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the
two hundred and thirty-fourth.
If you want to witness committed
activism at work, here are two of Chavez' speeches:
Go here to read his
Statement Ending a Fast. This fast lasted 25 days, was
held to promote nonviolence, and took place in the spring of 1968 at
Forty Acres, the union headquarters near Delano, California.
Here is a
photo documentary of the fast.
Go here to read his
Wrath of Grapes Boycott speech.
Chavez delivered this speech at various times and places kicking off
an entire campaign in May 1986 to promote consumer awareness of
Not only the consumer suffered, but more
importantly, the farm worker was outright poisoned. Chavez embarked
on yet another fast from July to August 1988. The campaign
especially showed results when, in 1992, grape workers received
their first industry-wide pay increase in eight years.
And here is an
excellent web site for all things César E. Chávez.