César Chávez was born in Yuma, Arizona in 1927 to a Mexican-American family with six children. He spent much of his childhood traveling with his family as they worked as migrant laborers in California after the family lost their home during the Great Depression.
After a brief stint in the Navy and several years working in the fields, Chávez dedicated his life to fighting for migrant workers’ rights. Along with Dolores Huerta, he founded what would later become the United Farm Workers union, which at its peak represented some 50,000 farm workers in California and Florida. He used non-violent tactics, such as his spiritual fasts and support for boycotts, to garner rights for migrant laborers.
Even after his death in 1993, Chávez’s legacy of grassroots organizing and Hispanic power continues and is commemorated on his birthday, March 31, as César Chávez Day in eight states. His popular slogan, “Sí, se puede” continues to crop up in the current immigration and labor rights movements.
[Photo By U.S. Department of Labor]
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