Cesar Chavez

The Cardinal celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month!


Elvis To, Staff Writer

Caesar Chavez was an important person in this world. He was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. He started working as a manual laborer before he spent two years working in the navy. After that, he relocated to California and after marrying his wife Helen Fabela Chavez, and started working with the Community Service Organization (CSO) and during that time he started helping laborers register to vote, In 1959, he became the CSO’s National Director and in 1962, he left the position to co-found the National Farm Workers Association based in Delano California.  He also launched an insurance scheme, credit union, and the El Malcriado newspaper for farmworkers.

He began organizing strikes among farmworkers, most notably the Delano grape strike between 1965–1970. Amid the grape strike, his NFWA merged with Larry Itliong’s AWOC to form the United Farm Workers in 1967. Influenced by the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Chavez emphasized direct but nonviolent tactics, including pickets and boycotts, to pressure farm owners into granting strikers’ demands. In the early 1970s he pushed a campaign against illegal immigration into the United States, but before that he sought out to expand the UFW’s influence outside California because he viewed illegal immigration as a strike-breaker and when he was pushing his campaign against illegal immigration, it generated violence along the U.S. Mexico border which caused schisms with many of the UFW workers.

He became an icon for organized labor and leftist groups in the U.S. and posthumously became a “folk saint” among Mexican Americans. His birthday is a federal commemorative holiday in several U.S. states, while many places are named after him, and in 1994 he posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He unfortunately passed away on April 23, 1993 in San Luis, Arizona.  He was 66 years old.