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Profile of the Day: Cesar Chavez

On this day in 1927, American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez was born.

Image: Cesar Chavez / Library of Congress

He was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona and was named after his paternal grandfather, Cesario Chavez. During the Great Depression, his family lost their farm and moved to California to become migrant farmers. He would leave school after the 8th grade to work full time as a farm laborer. After serving two years in the U.S. Navy, Chavez returned to working in the fields.

Chavez knew firsthand the hardships and struggles faced by American farmworkers, who worked to put food on tables across the country, but often went hungry themselves. In 1962, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later known as the United Farm Workers of America) alongside Dolores Huerta. As a labor leader and champion of workers’ rights, Chavez worked to draw attention to the inhumane working conditions of farm laborers. Inspired by civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, he emphasized the use of nonviolent tactics, such as boycotts, pickets, and hunger strikes. His activism would lead to landmark victories that substantially improved pay and working conditions of American farm laborers.

Chavez died on April 23, 1993 at the age of 66. A year after his death, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today, his birthday is celebrated as Cesar Chavez Day in several states, including California and Texas.

View Cesar Chavez’s Geni Profile

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