A true American hero, Cesar was a civil rights, Latino and farm labor leader; a genuinely religious and spiritual figure; a community organizer and social entrepreneur; a champion of militant nonviolent social change; and a crusader for the environment and consumer rights.
A first-generation American, he was born on March 31, 1927, near his family's small homestead in the North Gila River Valley outside Yuma, Arizona. At age 11, his family lost their farm during the Great Depression and became migrant farm workers. Throughout his youth and into adulthood, Cesar traveled the migrant streams throughout California laboring in the fields, orchards and vineyards, where he was exposed to the hardships and injustices of farm worker life.
After attending numerous schools as the family migrated, Cesar finished his formal education after the eighth grade and worked the fields full-time to help support his family. Although his formal education ended then, he later satisfied an insatiable intellectual curiosity and was self-taught on an eclectic range of subjects through reading during the rest of his life.
Cesar joined the U.S. Navy in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II, and served in the Western Pacific. He returned from the service in 1948 to marry Helen Fabela, whom he met while working in fields and vineyards around Delano. Together they settled in the East San Jose barrio of Sal Si Puedes (Get Out if You Can), and had eight children, later enjoying 31 grandchildren.
Please choose a category below to read more information about Cesar Chavez.
♦ Dream to Organize Farm Workers
♦ Historic Victories for Union
♦ A Labor Movement of His Own
♦ Cesar Chavez's Legacy