AC Library honors the life and legacy of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, remembered not only as the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, but also as a trailblazer for social justice and human rights.
Cesar Chavez Day is not only a day of celebrating a legacy that transformed the lives of millions of farmworkers, but it’s also a moment to thank and support the more than 2 million farmworkers in the country who keep us nourished each and every day.
Born in Yuma, Arizona, Chavez was raised in migrant camps throughout California and worked in the fields along with his parents and siblings. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Chavez returned to work in the fields where he and his colleagues faced deplorable working conditions and low pay. Chavez watched men, women, and children work long hours in the fields and risk their bodies for little pay and no respect. He wanted to make it right – he knew they deserved to work under better working conditions.
In the 1950s, Chavez became a community and labor organizer and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta in 1962. In 1965, the NFWA partnered with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), founded by Larry Itliong, in its first strike against grape growers in California. A year later, the NFWA and AWOC merged to become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) in 1966, and later the United Farm Workers (UFW). Until his death in 1993, his life was devoted to rallying for pay raises and improving working conditions through peaceful boycotts, marches, and hunger strikes.
We’ve included some recommended reading in Cesar Chavez’s honor.
March 31 is Cesar Chavez Day. Learn about the trailblazer who peacefully fought for equity and human rights for farmworkers across California from the 1950s until his death in 1993.