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Cesar Chavez
Cesar Chavez Information Chavez Timeline Chavez Glossary Chavez Activities and Printouts

Cesar Chavez: Labor Leader

Cesar Estrada Chavez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993) was a Mexican-American labor leader who used non-violent methods to fight for the rights of migrant farm workers in the southwestern USA. Migrant farm workers are people who do farm labor, moving from farm to farm and from town to town as their work is needed - it is difficult work that pays very little and can be dangerous due to the use of pesticides (pesticides are chemicals that kill bugs and can make people sick).

Chavez founded a group that advocates for the rights of farm workers, acting to increase wages and improve the working conditions and safety of farm workers. He also organized strikes (when workers refuse to work until improved working conditions and salary demands are met) and nation-wide boycotts of agricultural products in order to help workers (a boycott is a protest in which the public is asked not to buy certain products). Chavez went on many hunger strikes, refusing to eat until violence against strikers ended and until legislators (law makers) voted to make laws improving the lives of farm workers. He was also jailed many times during his fight against terrible migrant worker conditions.

Early Life:
Chavez was born in San Luis, Arizona, near Yuma. His family had lived there since his grandfather immigrated from Mexico.

His parents, Librado and Juana, owned a farm and store. The family lost the farm when Cesar was 10 years old (during the Great Depression), and became migrant farm workers. As a youth, Cesar worked part-time in the farm fields with his family in Arizona and California as they moved from farm to farm, harvesting the fields. After graduating from 8th grade, Cesar started working full-time in the fields to help support his family (this was necessary because his father, Librado, had been injured in a car accident).

Cesar served in the US Navy during World War 2. When Cesar Chavez returned from the war, he labored as a farm worker in California. Chavez married Helen Fabela in 1948; they eventually had 8 children and 31 grandchildren.

Early Social Activism - Sí, Se Puede (Yes, it can be done):
Chavez and his wife taught Mexican immigrants to read and organized voting registration drives for new US citizens. Chavez was greatly influenced by the peaceful philosophy of St. Francis of Assisi and Mohandas Gandhi. He joined the Community Service Organization, an organization that worked for the rights of farm workers.

grapesStarting a Union, Organizing Strikes and Boycotts - La Huelga (The Strike):
In 1962, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla started a union (a workers' rights group), called the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), to fight for "La Causa" (Spanish for "The Cause"). The NFWA organized "huelgas" (the Spanish word for "strikes"). There were many bitter and violent fights between the grape growers and the workers; Chavez and many union people were jailed in the struggle. Some agreements were eventually made between the farm workers union and the growers. In order to force growers to further improve farm worker conditions, Chavez organized a nation-wide lettuce boycott.

In 1968, Chavez organized a five-year "grape boycott," a movement that urged people to stop buying California grapes until farm workers had contracts insuring better pay and safer working conditions. The name of the union was changed to the United Farm Workers (the UFW) in 1974. In 1978, when some of the workers' demands were met, the boycotts of lettuce and grapes were lifted.

A Lifetime Quest for Social Justice - Viva La Causa (Long Live The Cause):
Chavez's motto was "Si, se puede." (meaning "Yes, it can be done.") and he proved it to be true. His work for the fair treatment of farm workers changed the lives of millions of people for the better.

After a lifetime of valiantly working for social justice, Chavez died of natural causes at the age of 66 (in 1993). In 1994, Chavez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously (after his death). To this day, the UFW and Chavez's children and grandchildren continue his fight for social justice.

Related Pages:

Cesar Chavez
A Printable Activity Book for Fluent Readers

A short, printable book about the great Hispanic-American labor leader, Cesar Estrada Chavez, who used nonviolent methods to improve the lives of migrant farm workers.
Chavez Coloring

Cesar Chavez Coloring Printable

Print out a coloring page on Cesar Chavez with a picture to color and some information about his life.
Chavez Worksheet

Cesar Chavez Worksheet

Print out a worksheet on Cesar Chavez with information on his life, a picture to color and three questions to answer. Answers: 1. United Farm Workers, 2. pesticides, 3. lettuce and grapes.
Alphabetical Order

Put 10 Cesar Chavez-Related Words in Alphabetical Order - Worksheet

Put 10 Cesar Chavez-related words in alphabetical order. The words are: boycott, farm, grapes, growers, lettuce, migrant, pesticide, strike, union, workers. Go to the answers.
Chavez code

Cesar Chavez Alphabet Code

Use the alphabet to find the quote from Cesar Chavez on this worksheet. Answer: "You are never strong enough that you don't need help."
Chavez wordsearch

Cesar Chavez Wordsearch Puzzle

Find the words in the printable wordsearch puzzle, then use the extra letters to find the secret message. Secret Message: "Social justice leader." Or go to the answers.
cloze activity

Cesar Chavez Cloze Worksheet

Print out a fill-in-the-blanks page on Cesar Chavez. Go to the answers.
Chavez Vocabulary Quiz

Cesar Chavez Vocabulary Quiz

Print out a vocabulary quiz page on terms related to Cesar Chavez's life. Go to a Chavez-related glossary.
KWL chart thumbnail

Cesar Chavez KWL Worksheet

Print out a KWL graphic organizer on Cesar Chavez - the student fills out the chart, writing, "What I Know," "What I Want to Find Out," and "What I Have Learned."
fruit to label

Fruit in Spanish

Label the orange, lemon, apple, strawberry, watermelon, avocado, banana, pear, cherry, and grapes in Spanish.
vegetables to label

Vegetables in Spanish

Label the peas, potato, celery, carrot, pumpkin, onion, cucumber, corn, broccoli, mushroom, and tomato in Spanish.
Shapes to label

Label Me! Printouts in Spanish

Label the people, food, animals, shapes, etc. in Spanish.

Cesar Chavez: 4 Causes --> 1 Effect
Fishbone Diagram Printout

Chart an effort like that of Cesar Chavez's non-violent fight for migrant farm worker rights. Use a cause-and-effect graphic organizer to structure the way you might fight for social justice. Sample answers, the desired effect is better working conditions/salary for migrant farm workers. The causes used to get the effect could be: Lobby legislators (write letters to congress, draft a petition and get signatures on it), Create a group to bargain with owners (get members to join, write an agreement with the terms you desire), Organize strikes (get strikers, determine when and where strike should occur), and Start boycotts (determine what should be boycotted, contact newspapers and local news).

Arizona Map Quiz/Printout
Arizona Label Me! Printout
Arizona Outline Map Printout

California Map Quiz/Printout
California Label Me! Printout
California Outline Map Printout

Cesar Chavez
Cesar Chavez Information Chavez Timeline Chavez Glossary Chavez Activities and Printouts

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