One of the greatest civil rights activists of our time; one who believed the ways of Gandhi and Martin Luther King that “violence can only hurt us and our cause” (Cesar Chavez); a quiet, devoted, small catholic man who had nothing just like those he help fight for; “one of America's most influential labor leaders of the late twentieth century” (Griswold del Castillo); and one “who became the most important Mexican-American leader in the history of the United States” (Ender). Cesar Chavez; an American farm worker, who would soon become the labor leader that led to numerous improvements for union workers; it is recorded that Chavez was born near Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927 and died on April 23, 1993 in San Luis, Arizona. (Wikipedia) His life affected many others as his unselfish deeds changed the labor union force forever. This essay will discuss the reasons Cesar Chavez became involved in Union rights, the immediate impact he had, and also the legacy he left behind with his actions that influenced American society.
There are many reasons why Chavez became part of the movement, but the major reason was his childhood. It is noted that Cesar Chavez was one of five children born to Librado Chavez and Juana Estrada who were farmers. As a child in Arizona, he grew up nourished by the values of his family and his rural Mexican-American community. His mother taught him the importance of non-violence and self-sacrifice and his grandmother impressed upon his the values of the Catholic faith. And as a child, he experienced racial discrimination in school. (Griswold del Castillo) Chavez quit school after the eighth grade to work full-time in the fields. His grandfather had homesteaded some 112 acres that the family soon lost because of the Great Depression. (Jusko)
It is reported that Chavez and his family fell behind in mortgage payments and lost what they had. They then moved to California looking for work in the fields as temporary farm laborers; just like thousands of other rural families in the southwest. The family led a nomadic life; moving very often in search of migrant work. Chavez joined his parents to help harvest carrots, cotton, and grapes under the blazing California sun. During this period Cesar Chavez experienced the corrupt labor contractors, extremely low wages, and poor living and working conditions that the migrant workers had to endure. Around this time as well, he got his first glimpse of union organizing when his father became active in several union activities. (Ramakrishnan; Russell) It is believed that Chavez’s father and uncle actively supported unions. Therefore he learned at a young age firsthand about strikes, organizing operations, and also picket lines. (Gale Encyclopedia)
During his lifetime, Cesar Chavez and his followers made many changes and contributions to society. While he was alive, he had the privilege to see what his non-violence actions produced; what they transpired. It is recorded that Chavez began...