The significance of Cesar's life transcends any one cause or struggle. He was a unique and humble leader, as well as a great humanitarian and communicator who influenced and inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life. Cesar forged a national and extraordinarily diverse coalition for farm worker boycotts, which included students, middle class consumers, trade unionists, religious activists and minorities.
Cesar passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 23, 1993 in the small farm worker town of San Luis, Arizona, not far from where he was born 66 years earlier on the family homestead. More than 50,000 people attended his funeral services in Delano, the same community in which he had planted the seeds of social justice decades before.
Cesar's motto, "Si se puede!" ("Yes, it can be done!"), coined during his 1972 fast in Arizona, embodies the uncommon legacy he left for people around the world. Since his death, hundreds of communities across the nation have named schools, parks, streets, libraries, and other public facilities, as well as awards and scholarships in his honor. His birthday, March 31st, is an official holiday in 10 states. In 1994, President Clinton posthumously awarded Cesar the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, at the White House.
Cesar liked to say that his job as an organizer was helping ordinary people do extraordinary things. Cesar made everyone, especially the farm workers, feel the jobs they were doing in the movement were very important. It did not matter if they were lawyers working in the coutrooms or cooks in the kitchen feeling the people involved in the strike, he showed the farm workers that they could win against great odds. He gave people the faith to believe in themselves, even if they were poor and unable to receive the best education. Cesar succeeded where so many others failed for 100 years to organize farm workers. He was able to do the impossible by challenging and overcoming the power of one of the country's richest industries in California.
As a common man with an uncommon vision, Cesar Chavez stood for equality, justice and dignity for all Americans. His Universal principals remain as relevant and inspiring today as they were when he first began his movement.