Messenger:  Cesar Chavez

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Eleanor Roosevelt
Cesar Chavez
Martin Luther King
Shirley Chisholm
New Woman



...Since this nation's founding, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent have settled in the United States. In fact, with the exception of Native Americans, everyone living in this country is either an immigrant or the descendent of voluntary or involuntary immigrants.  --ACLU


The Cesar E. Chavez Foundation

United Farm Workers 

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, For ages 6 to 9

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement by Susan Ferriss and Ricardo Sandoval

National Council of La Raza

NOW with Bill Moyers: Politics and Economy On the Border, Migrant Labor

Cesar E. Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University

American Civil Liberties Union


Edward R. Murrow's "Harvest of Shame" 1960 telecast produced by David Lowe -- Remembering the era of real investigative journalism...

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement (1997)


"Deportee" by Woody Guthrie (plane wreck at Los Gatos that killed migrant workers)

Interviews with Cesar Chavez

Speeches by Cesar Chavez at the Commonwealth Club


César Estrada Chávez 1927 - 1993

"We can choose to use our lives ... to bring about a better and more just world for our children."

Justice—Non-Violence—Compassion—Human Dignity—Strength

Cesar Chavez, An American Hero

César Estrada Chávez is well known as a champion of the poor and oppressed.  He founded the National Farm Workers Association that later became the United Farm Workers.

Chávez was born near Yuma, Arizona. He became a migrant farm worker at age 10, with the rest of his family, when they lost their farm during The Great Depression. He attended over 30 schools, but ended his formal education with the eighth grade.

He joined the U.S. Navy in 1946 and served in the western Pacific. After service, he returned to central California and married Helen Fabela. He began working as a organizer in 1952, working for the Community Services Organization, a Latino civil rights group. He became their national director in the late 1950s, but resigned in 1962 to form the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers.

In 1965, Chávez and the NFWA led a strike of California grape-pickers in demand of higher wages, along with a national boycott of California table grapes, which, five years later resulted in the first major victory for US migrant workers. He continued to struggle against large growers, including going on three hunger strikes over wages and conditions. At the time of his death he was leading another grape boycott to protest the use of harmful pesticides.

He became an American labor rights hero for supporting labor rights for Mexican migrant farm workers. Chávez was also an ethical vegetarian and a strong proponent of nonviolence.

César Chávez on a 2004 US

Interestingly, Chávez and other migrant farm workers who were legal US citizens were torn between racial and class loyalty. Liberal immigration policies increased Hispanic representation in the US, but harmed the working class by driving down unskilled wages. Chávez sided with workers first and Hispanics second, strongly opposed liberal immigration policies, and favored deporting illegal immigrants.

Chávez is celebrated in California where the state legislature, in 2000, approved a bill to create a paid state holiday in his honor. The holiday is celebrated on March 31st, Chávez's birthday. Texas also recognizes the day, as does Denver, and in Arizona and Colorado it is an optional holiday. The holiday is the first in the history of the United States for a Mexican American and a labor leader.

Many cities have also paid respect by renaming streets or schools for him. These cities include San Francisco, Los Angeles, California, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Austin, Texas Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Washington, DC, Kansas City, Missouri, and Salt Lake City. The California cities of Sacramento, San Diego, Berkeley, and San Jose have also renamed parks in his memory. The United States Postal Service honored him with a stamp in 2004.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  All images are from the Library of Congress, and are believed to be in the Public Domain.


Cesar Chavez — Words we live by:
"The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
"We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence. We are convinced that non-violence supports you if you have a just and moral cause...If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle."  
"It starts with your heart and radiates out."
"When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us, so it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are."
"Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves and be free."  
"In this world it is possible to achieve great material wealth, to live an opulent life. But a life built upon those things alone leaves a shallow legacy, in the end, we will be judged by other standards."
"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community...Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own."



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