Cesar Chavez

From dKosopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

image:Cesarchavezstamp.jpg

Cesar Estrada Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 near Yuma, Arizona.

In 1938 he and his family moved to California. He lived in La Colonia Barrio in Oxnard for a short period, returning to Arizona several months later. They returned to California in June 1939 and this time settled in San Jose. They lived in the barrio called Sal Si Puedes ­"Get Out If You Can." He and his family worked in the fields of California from Brawley to Oxnard, Atascadero, Gonzales, King City, Salinas, McFarland, Delano, Wasco, Selma, Kingsburg, and Mendota.

In 1944 he joined the Navy at the age of seventeen. Cesar returned to San Jose where he met Father Donald McDonnell and Chavez began reading about St. Francis, Gandhi and nonviolence. Cesar became an organizer for Fred Ross's organization, the Community Service Organization ­(CSO). His first task was registering Mexican-Americans to vote. Chavez traveled throughout California and made speeches in support of workers' rights. He became general director of CSO in 1958.

In 1962 Cesar founded the National Farm Workers Association, later to become the United Farm Workers (UFW), co-founded with Dolores Huerta.

In 1965, Chavez led a strike of California grape-pickers to demand higher wages. In addition to the strike, Americans were urged to boycott table grapes to support the strike. The strike lasted five years and attracted national attention. In 1968, Chavez began a fast to call attention to the migrant workers' cause, increasing public awareness of the problem. By 1970, the UFW was able to persuade grape growers to accept union contracts and had effectively organized most of that industry, at one point in time claiming 550,000 dues paying members.

In the early 1970s, the UFW organized strikes and boycotts to get higher wages from grape and lettuce growers. During the 1980s, Chavez led a boycott to protest the use of toxic pesticides on grapes. He again fasted to draw public attention. These strikes and boycotts generally ended with the signing of bargaining agreements.

He passed away on April 23, 1993, in San Luis, a small village near Yuma, Arizona.

Personal tools