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The Story of César Chávez

César Chávez was described as an ordinary man with an extraordinary legacy of great accomplishment and service to humanity. César was born March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona on a farm his grandfather homesteaded in the 1880s. At age 10, his life as a migrant farm worker began when his family lost their land during the Great Depression. These were bitterly poor years for the Chávez family as they, together with thousands of other displaced families, migrated throughout the Southwest to labor in the the fields and vineyards.

"We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community - and this nation."
César Chávez
Although he possessed a thirst for learning that he would exhibit throughout the course of his life, César left school after the eighth grade to help support his family. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1945 and served in the Western Pacific in the aftermath of World War II. In 1948, he married Helen Febela, whom he met while working in the vineyards of Delano. The Chávez family settled in the East San Jose barrio of Sal Si Puedes from which he continued to work in the surrounding fields, orchards, and vineyards of the region.

It was in 1952 that César’s life as a community organizer began. While working in the apricot orchards outside San Jose, he became a full-time organizer with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a self-help group among Mexican-Americans. In this capacity he organized voter registration drives, battled racial and economic discrimination, and organized CSO chapters across California and Arizona. Following his dream to establish an organization dedicated to farm workers, César moved his family to Delano, California in 1962 to establis
Over the next thirty-one years, César would forge a legacy of service, conviction and principled leadership that serves as a beacon for all Americans. As President of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), AFL-CIO, he founded and led the first successful farm workers union in U.S. history. Under his stewardship a broad coalition of unions, religious groups, students, minorities, and consumers joined together to pursue social justice.

The late Senator Robert Kennedy called César Chávez, “One of the heroic figures of our time.” As a testimony to his lifelong contributions to humanity, he received the highest civilian awards from the United States and Mexico, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Aguila Azteca respectively.

This is the legacy that we celebrate and seek to share with our children and all Rhode Islanders by seeking to celebrate March 31st the Annual César Chávez Day of Service and Learning and by offering educational opportunities for young people in the form of Grants/Awards.
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César Chávez Breakfast Photos
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