Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month – Cesar Chavez
October 1, 2021
AFA is recognizing the histories, cultures, contributions, and achievements of Hispanic Americans to the United States. This week, AFA, in honor of Hispanic-Latinx Heritage Month honors Cesar Chavez.
Born in Arizona to a Mexican American family, Cesar Chavez grew up around the people he later helped through his activism. The defining moment in Chavez’s life came when his family moved to California during the Great Depression to become farm workers, cementing his fight for farmers rights.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, Chavez worked as a lumber handler in San Jose, where he helped set up a chapter of the Community Service Organization, a pivotal civil rights organization for Latinos in California.
Chavez made the CSO his full-time job after he was laid off, meeting fellow activist Dolores Huerta while traveling to chapters around the state of California. The two would go on to found the National Farm Workers Association, later the United Farm Workers labor union, becoming primary figures for Latin American civil rights.
Though Chavez later received criticism from within for his singular control of the union, including times in which he fired those who opposed him, the activist is still regarded as an important civil rights leader and posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the year after his death in 1993. He was 66.