Cesar Chavez

Thesis Statement

Chavez helped millions of immigrant workers gain civil rights.

Who was Cesar Chavez?

  • Cesar Chavez became the most visible public spokesman for the rights of migrant farm workers in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s and the first national symbol of the Mexican-American labor community.
  • He worked with the Community Service Organization (CSO) throughout the 1950s, rising to the position of executive director (1958–62).
  • In 1962, he established the Farm Workers Association (FWA) but chose to maintain its independence from the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and its branch the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), hoping to maintain the strong sense of community activism that had been part of the CSO.

What did he contribute to the world?

Cesar Chavez worked his adulthood to give immigrant workers civil rights they deserve

  • Chávez became general director of the CSO in 1958 but grew increasingly dissatisfied as the CSO attracted more and more middle-class liberals and fewer and fewer poor farm workers. When the CSO leadership refused to support his vision of creating a farm workers union in 1962, he resigned and founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA).
  • Within three years, Chávez had enrolled 1,700 families in the NFWA, enabling the association to negotiate pay raises from two local growers in Delano, but Chávez felt it was still far too small an organization to risk confrontation with the large growers. Nevertheless, when the American Farm Workers Association, another farm workers union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), went on strike in September 1965 for higher wages, the NFWA membership voted to join them.
  • Following this victory and the settlement of a jurisdictional dispute in March 1977 with the Teamsters Union over which types of farmworkers the two different unions could attempt to recruit, the UFW concluded agreements with the other large table grape growers. It then began the long process of winning the right to represent farmworkers in negotiating with the growers of numerous other crops.



"Cesar Chavez." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1990. Biography in Context. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.McGuire, William, and Leslie Wheeler. "César Chávez." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

McGuire, William, and Leslie Wheeler. "César Chávez." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.