1.Birth and Early Childhood
Cesar Chavez was born in Arizona’s Yuma area in 1927. At age 10, his family lost land as a result of back taxes amidst the Great Depression. They ended up working as migrant farm workers in California to earn a living. Cesar Chavez started working on farms on a fulltime basis after completing 8th grade. In 1940s through to the 1950s, he bore witness to the bad treatment that farm workers were subject to and opted to take action to change the situation.
2.A Dynamic Social Activist
Cesar Chavez along with Delores Huerta started the United Farm Workers Association in 1962. He became one of the most dynamic social activists in the U.S. by waging aggressive, non-violent campaigns to advocate for the rights of farm workers that attracted broad support giving people throughout the country a fresh appreciation of where their food came from.
3.Worked as Organizer for a Civil Rights Group
After working as a farm worker for 14 years, Cesar Chavez joined a civil rights group in California as a Community Service Organizer. He rose to become its national director in 1958 and left after 4 years to found National Farm Workers Association, present day’s United Farm Workers of America with Dolores Huerta. This outfit became the first farm labor union to succeed in the U.S.
4.Cesar Chavez Day
His work saw a series of boycotts and strikes win the unprecedented protection for all farm workers. Though not a national holiday, some states have declared his 31st March birth date an official holiday. President Obama proclaimed Cesar Chavez’s birthday an education, community and service day. This day was marked during the release of the new Cesar Chavez biography film in 2014.
5.Cesar Chavez motivated the “Yes we can” Campaign Slogan
In 1972, during a fast that lasted 25 days, Huerta and Chavez came up with the Spanish “Si, se puede” slogan which meant “Yes, it can be done”. The slogan became the official motto for the United Farm Workers and rallied the Latino demand for civil rights. It later inspired President Obama’s “Yes we can” 2008 campaign slogan.
6.A U.S. Navy Ship is named after Cesar Chavez
There are various American schools, national monuments and streets named after Cesar Chavez. Cesar Chavez spent 2 years serving in the U.S Navy. Just as Clark and Lewis class cargo ships were named after American visionaries and pioneers, in 2011, the USNS Cesar Chavez was debuted.
7.Caser Chavez attended 28 schools
Chavez changes schools 38 times prior to dropping off after eighth grade to help his parents. His parents kept moving while working as migrant farm workers during his early years. Though his schooling was limited, Caser Chaves advocated for education later as a way of improving social lives.
8.Meeting with Dictator cost Caser Chavez Support
In 1977, Cesar Chavez agreed to meet Philippines’ 20-year president, Ferdinand Marcos in Manila with the hope of winning support for Filipino farm workers in America. Ferdinand Marcos was accused of corruption and abuses of human rights. Accepting the invitation endorsed the regime and caused him to lose several allies.
9.Caser Chavez turned a JFK job offer down
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy offered Chavez a job as the head of Peace Corps in Latin America. Chavez turned the offer down in order to continue organizing farm workers. In this same year, Huerta and Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association.
10.At 61, Chavez participated in a 36-day Fast
The United Farm Workers secured union contracts under Chavez, prohibiting DDT use, and requiring provision of protective clothing for workers to prevent pesticide exposure and stopping pesticide spraying while workers worked in the fields. In 1988, Chavez took a 36 day fast to protest use of pesticides on grapes.