Cesar Chavez Day, the state holiday honoring the late labor leader credited with improving work and quality of life conditions for immigrant farm workers in the Central Valley, will be observed Saturday on the 91st anniversary of his birth.
Chavez, an advocate of nonviolence, is best remembered for spearheading a grape boycott in 1965 that went nationwide in 1968 and lasted until 1978, resulting in higher wages for farm workers and focusing national attention on their plight.
Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, Chavez dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his family by joining them in the fields as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the many adversities these workers faced daily.
Chavez joined the Community Service Organization in 1952, urging Latinos to register to vote.
Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with Dolores Huerta. The union merged in 1965 with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers.
Chavez and the UFW played an instrumental role in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which made California the first state to give farm workers the right to seek union representation and bargain collectively within an established legal framework.
“Californians of every generation and background continue to be inspired by the leadership of Cesar Chavez,” Gov. Jerry Brown wrote in his proclamation declaring Saturday Cesar Chavez Day. “On this anniversary of his birth, I ask all Californians to join me in continuing to build on his dream of a world where all workers are treated with dignity and respect.”
Brown signed the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act into law
Chavez died in 1993 at age 66.
— City News Service