La Prensa Staff

César Estrada Chávez dedicated his life to building a movement of fairly paid and treated migrants. He inspired farmworkers and millions of people to commit themselves to social, economic, and civil rights activism and reform.

Born in Yuma, Arizona in 1927, he was the child of Mexican-American migrant laborers and spent his youth in migrant camps. He also joined the US Navy during World War II, 1944 to 1946.

In 1962, he began organizing primarily Latino farmworkers of Arizona and California. A charismatic figure, he used strikes, fasts, and boycotts to win union recognition and contracts from California grape and lettuce growers. He, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi, opposed the use of force to achieve his goals.

He brought his union to the AFL-CIO, and in 1972 it became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). In 1994 he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

La Prensa honors Chávez’s hard work and dedication every year on his birthday, March 31st, a federal, national holiday.