Life of a Brave: Learn More About Civil Rights Activist Cesar Chavez

by Dominic Ramirez

A week ago today, the Bosco community celebrated Cesar Chavez Day, which is a national holiday in celebration of the civil rights work Chavez accomplished in his life. Chavez was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, whose message still resonates today.

Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, in Yuma Arizona, into a family of farm workers. Like many farmworkers at the time, the Chavez family lost their property to the great depression, and because of this, they moved to California in search of work.

After he finished eighth grade Cesar dropped out of school to help support his family as a migrant worker, he would go on to be a migrant worker into his early adult life.

However, by 1944, Cesar wasn’t just a migrant worker anymore, he had started a civil rights group called the National Farm Workers Association, which is now known as the United Farm Workers of America (UFWA).

The UFWA was officially formed in 1962. It started as a small grassroots organization but soon would soon spread across the US

Cesar Chavez envisioned the UFWA as doing more for workers than giving them better hours, raising wages and better working conditions; he also helped provide better living conditions and spoke out against racism.

With the help of the UWFA, Cesar organized the “Delano Grape Strike”. On September 8, 1965, thousands of workers stopped working in vineyards in Delano out of protest. the strike went on for five years until a collective bargaining agreement was reached with a major vineyard that benefited 10,000+ workers 

Cesar was a firm believer in a nonviolent ideology. He was inspired by another famous civil rights leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Through Cesars nonviolent marches, boycotts and rallies he was able to grab national attention and impact real change.

“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice,” said Cesar during a speech in 1968.

Cesar would later go on to plan and attend many other protests and projects. His civil rights work extended past migrant workers, he also protested issues such as the Vietnam war, gay rights and issues of race.

Cesar Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993. 21 years after his death, president
Barack Obama declared March 31 Cesar Chavez Day, making it a U.S. federal commemorative holiday.

While Cesar Chavez Day is celebrated throughout America, only schools in California get the day off, which is good news for students at St John Bosco.

While people across America continue to struggle for fair treatment, the country can still find inspiration in Cesar Chavez’s message and in what he was able to accomplish in his life.

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