Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American hero for many, who was born March 13, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona. He was a man who believed in helping the Latino community living in the United States and fought very hard for their rights. He was a leader who gave everything he had to the cause and inspired many people who had little hope with his words, “¡Sí se puede! Yes, you can!”
From a very young age he worked in the fields picking fruit with his family. He understood the working conditions of a migrant farmworker and sympathized with how little they were paid. He did not like school very much as a child, mainly because he did not know English and attended schools that only catered to English speakers. After only getting a formal education up until the eighth grade, he decided to become a migrant farmworker in order to help his mother after his father died.
At an early age he saw the injustices that existed for the Latino population and wished to change it in any way he could. After having experienced discrimination in the navy, he decided to make a change. He became an organizer for a community service organization and soon was inspired to work and fight for the rights of Latinos working in the fields. He organized workers strikes in order to try and get better wages and improve working conditions for the farmworkers in the United States. He believed in the importance of two things: standing up for what you believe in and helping others who are in need.
In order to better organize farm workers, he created what is now called the United Farm Workers of America with his longtime friend, Dolores Huerta. This union, the biggest and most important for farmworkers in the United States, was to gather workers in the fields to discuss and address issues that directly affected them. This group organized boycotts, protests and fasts (giving up food for a period of time) to try and get their voices heard. César Chávez was greatly inspired by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, two figures that believed in the power of speech rather than violence. The boycotts and protests served as a way for a large group of farmworkers to stop all working activity to then demand better working conditions and higher wages from the companies they worked for. The fasts served as a way to show that he did not support supermarkets or companies that sold produce that used harmful chemicals, known as pesticides, that were harmful to farmworkers when they picked them. In this way, he was not only raising awareness but demonstrating his passion and will for the unjust conditions there farmworkers faced.
In addition to the founding of the United Farmworkers of America, César Chávez was one of the leading figures in the Chicano movement in the United States in the 1960’s. This movement wished to address the issues and hardships of the Latino population living in the United States and ultimately sought more representation in politics, schools and within the community. He was very successful in making the lives of farmworkers more secure as well as empowering many Latino families struggling in the United States.
A hero and role model for Latinos, he was a man who used his knowledge, skills and time to improve the lives of his people. He died April 23, 1993 peacefully in his sleep and will forever be remembered as a man who dedicated his entire life to actively helping others who were less fortunate than him. His memory and legacy will live on in the United States because of his demand for change and his aim for advancement for Latinos.