Cesar Chavez is an iconic figure and hero among Latino communities. He was a prominent organizer of the Chicano Movement in the United States. He founded the United Farmworkers Union that addressed Mexican worker’s struggles in the fields. His work has led to vast improvements in farmworker unions and other labor unions in the United States. Chavez protested against Arizona legislation that banned boycotts during harvests seasons and the use of pesticides on grapes, and he also helped develop unemployment insurance for farmworkers.
Cesar Chavez represents a person who worked tirelessly for the rights of migrant workers and Mexican-Americans at a time when they were treated unfairly. Prior and during the Chicano movement in the 1960’s, students in public education were not allowed to speak Spanish. Chavez dealt with racist remarks, segregated schools, and having to negotiate being a migrant farmer while attending school.
Cesar Chavez continued to fight for labor rights until he died peacefully on April 23, 1993.
Today, many activists and organizers follow in his footsteps by dedicating their lives to the work of Cesar Chavez. While this does not mean folks are putting their lives on the line the way Chavez did, it does mean they look up to him as an influential Mexican-American who paved a way for people who look like him to achieve an education and have basic worker rights in their workplace.
San Antonio, Texas marches in honor of Cesar Chavez on March 30th, 2013.
Today, youth and the older generation are working tirelessly to make sure the migrant farm laborers have a place to sleep during their travel at the Centro Sin Fronteras in El Paso, Texas. The center offers English classes and a modest clinic to those who stay there.
In San Antonio, Texas, organizers are working hard to make sure the school workers are treated with dignity in school districts at the Southwest Worker’s Union. They are also working hard to make sure students in their local high schools know about their history as Mexican-Americans in the United States.
La Union Del Pueblo Entero in San Juan, Texas, works tirelessly to make sure their communities are healthy and united in order to organize themselves. Cesar Chavez founded this organization in South Texas to make sure that low-income communities have the tools to articulate the issues they face.
Although Mexican-Americans still have a long way to go before there is justice for migrant farmworkers, undocumented families and working class communities, Cesar Chavez has inspired us in more ways than one. As he would say, “Si, se puede!” or “Yes, it is possible!”.