This Sunday I had the privilege of attending UFW's screening of the Cesar Chavez movie. I found it very humbling, touching and powerful.
Cesar Chavez was a farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist. Born in Arizona to a Mexican-American family, they were swindled out of their home and land during the Great Depression. His family eventually moved to California to become migrant farm workers. He had a hard childhood, picking vegetables and fruits in the fields year-round in all weather for very low wages. Cesar dropped out of middle school to work in the fields full time to support his family.
He later enlisted in the military, and became a community organizer after he returned to California. In the early 60s he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later became the United Farm Workers) with Dolores Huerta.
Cesar Chavez is most known for his work lifting up field workers in California and elsewhere. The table grapes boycott in California during the 60s lasted five years, and led to strikes, boycotts, marches and fasts, and organizing of farm workers in several other states. They won higher wages and the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which gave farm workers the right to collectively organize and form unions.
Cesar Chavez's birthday, March 31, is a state holiday in California to honor his legacy. But the struggle continues for immigrants, and low-wage workers of all kinds. We need to raise the wage, improve working conditions, and allow all workers to collectively bargain for a better life. Si se puede. We Shall Overcome.