Cesar Chavez Day, an official state holiday in California, is intended to promote community service in honor of the Latino labor leader’s life and work. Cesar Chavez, a first generation American, was born near Yuma, Arizona on March 31, 1927. His family lost their farm during the Great Depression and they were forced to become migrant farm workers. Young Cesar attended school through grade 8, then dropped out to work full time to help support his family. He traveled throughout California laboring in the fields where he was exposed to the hardships and injustices of farm worker life. He served in the navy from 1946 to 1948 then returned home to marry Helen Fabela whom he had met while working in the fields. They settled in San Jose and eventually had 8 children and 31 grandchildren. Cesar's career in community organizing began in 1952, when he was recruited into the San Jose chapter of the Community Service Organization, the most prominent and militant Latino civil rights group of its time. He spent 10 years with this group, but his dream had always been to organize a union that would protect and serve farm workers. On March 31, 1962, Cesar resigned from the CSO and founded the National Farm Workers Association. It consisted of 10 members: Cesar, his wife, Helen, and their eight young children. The NFWA later became the United Farm Workers of America. The family moved to Delano, California, where Cesar spent his days recruiting members into the new union. Over four decades, despite many defeats, the UFW achieved unprecedented gains for farm workers, establishing it as the first successful farm workers union in America.
To find books in the library on Cesar Chavez type Cesar Chavez into the search box of the Encore Catalog, or enter Chavez Cesar as a subject heading in the Classic Catalog. To find detailed biographical information about Cesar Chavez go to the Marin County Free Library homepage and click on Research & Learning in the blue bar toward the top of the page. Under Resources by Subject you’ll find a listing of the library’s databases. Click on Biography and you’ll be linked to Biography Reference Center where you can search for information on Cesar Chavez.