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Cesar Chavez was a Latino-American civil rights activist who fought against the mistreatment of farm laborers and migrant workers in a non-violent way. Below are some great facts on Cesar Chavez or alternatively download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- Cesar Chavez was a Latino-American civil rights activist who fought against the mistreatment of farm laborers and migrant workers in a non-violent way.
- He was born on March 31, 1927 in Arizona, and he had 5 siblings.
- After his family lost their home and surrounding land, they moved to California to work as migrant farm workers.
- While living in California, their family had a tough time making ends meet. Cesar attended over 30 different schools, all taught by racist white teachers. He experienced racism and mistreatment from a young age.
- Cesar’s family moved from home to home in search of work. Every member of his family, including him, had to work.
- Their work ranged from season to season. In the spring they picked cherries and beans, in the summer it was grapes and corn, and by fall they were required to pick cotton. By winter time, they had to endure the harsh temperatures outside and pick peas and lettuce.
- When Cesar was in the 7th grade, he dropped out of school to work full-time so that his mother didn’t have to work in the fields.
- The days were very long and often they didn’t have enough food to eat, and were exhausted from the day’s work.
- Cesar joined the U.S Navy in 1946, which he thought would give him valuable skills to take back to his old life. Unfortunately, when he reflected on his time in the navy, he said it was the “worst two years of my life”.
- When he returned from the navy, he continued working in the fields until 1952. At that point, he formed the Community Service Organization.
- It was through this organization that he worked for the rights of Latino workers, including their right to vote.
- After traveling around California and making speeches about the importance of the right to vote, he became the national director of the CSO in 1958.
- Throughout his time with the CSO, hebegan reading about advocators of changewho did so in a peaceful way – including Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi. He felt that he too could bring about change in anon-violent way.
- In 1962, Cesar left the CSO and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association.
- Once Cesar had started the Farm Workers Association, he went back to working in the fields to try and encourage other workers to join. Because other attempts had been made to recruit workers into a union, people were hesitant to join. They thought they would get into trouble, and that the Association wouldn’t work.
- Cesar kept at it, and eventually recruited more members. He called his movement for better working conditions “La Causa”, which means “The Cause”.
- One of his first major actions in the FWA (which was later called the United Farm Workers (UFW) was to strike against grape farmers, and the unsafe and unfair working conditions imposed upon the farm workers.
- The group demanded that all Americans boycott eating grapes as a sign of support for their cause.
- In 1970, he and 67 other grape farm workers marched 340 miles to Sacramento, California, to protest against these unfair conditions. Along the way, the group grew in size. By the time they arrived in Sacramento, there were thousands of workers protesting.
- In the end, the grape growers signed a contract that allowed the farm workers to unionize with collective bargaining rights. This meant that all the farm workers could have a collective, unanimous voice in determining their rights and responsibilities as workers.
- Cesar advocated for non-violent protests, strikes, and boycotts to achieve his goals for his cause.
- Over the next few decades, he continued to work for the rights and working conditions of migrant farmers to ensure they were being treated properly, paid accordingly, and that they had fair and safe working conditions.
- His actions and messages spread to other states. Eventually, migrant workers from Texas, Wisconsin, and Ohio followed suit and held protests and boycotts of their own.
- Cesar was known to participate in fastings in order to raise awareness for his causes. Fasting is when you don’t eat for a period of time. His fasts would range from a few days to up to 36 days.
- In fact, during his 36-day fast on August 21, 1988, celebrities took part with him. Some of them included Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry, Danny Glover, and Whoopi Goldberg.
- Eventually, farmers were taking notice of Cesar’s actions, and realized that they were being put in danger everyday from many things, including:
– Long working days with low pay
– Prejudice and racist comments
– Long-term exposure to the mass use of pesticides
– Unsafe working conditions
– Unfair treatment (being fired for complaining, no toilets, no breaks)
- Cesar and his wife, Helen Fabela, had 8 children and were vegan. They cared very much for the welfare of animals and the environment.
- Cesar Chavez died in his sleep on April 23, 1993 in Arizona.
- He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly after his death.
Cesar Chavez Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Cesar Chavez Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Cesar Chavez who was a Latino-American civil rights activist who fought against the mistreatment of farm laborers and migrant workers in a non-violent way.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Cesar Chavez Facts.
- Timeline of Contributions.
- Cesar Chavez Wordsearch.
- True or False?
- Boycott Poster.
- Cesar Chavez Crossword.
- Unscrambling Activity.
- Historical Links.
- Opinion Piece.
- If I Were President…
- Cesar Chavez Fact Board.
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