Civil Rights Movement

Houston Institute for Culture 

César Estrada Chávez

March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993

1927 César Estrada Chávez is born on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona, March 31.
1937 Chávez's parents lose the farm and family business in the depression. The family joins the thousands of migrant farm workers toiling in the California fields.
1942 Chávez graduates from eighth grade. After attending more that schools, this is his last year of formal education.
1944 - 1946 Chávez enlists in the U.S. Navy, serves in the Pacific during World War II.
1948 Chávez marries Helen Fabela.
1952 Chávez is recruited by Fred Ross to work for the Community Service Organization (CSO) on a voter registration drive.
1959 - 1962 Chávez organizes support from farm workers throughout California's San Joaquin Valley, forming the National Farm Worker's Association (NFWA).
1965 NFWA rallies its' membership to strike against grape growers in Delano, California. Chávez's call for a boycott against Schenley Industries, a major grape producer, is endorsed by the AFL-CIO.
1966 Local officials are criticized by Senator Robert F. Kennedy after an investigation uncovers strike-breaking practices against farm workers. Chávez and 66 other NFWA members march 250 miles from Delano to Sacramento, California to promote the farm worker cause. NFWA reaches a settlement with Schenley and the boycott is called off. The contract is the first ever signed for farm workers in the United States. NFWA merges with the Agriculture Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC).
1968 Chávez fasts for 25 days to emphasize the non-violent nature of the continuing strike against the grape growers.
1969 - 1970 Under pressure from the national boycott, grape growers are forced to sign UFWOC contracts. The strike ends July 29, 1970. Chávez rallies the UFWOC to work against the Teamsters who are trying to organize lettuce workers in Salinas, California. The lettuce boycott begins.
1972 The UFWOC is granted a national charter from the AFL-CIO. The official name of the organization is changed to the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).
1973 Refusing to limit picketing, Chávez and 3,500 members of the UFW are arrested and jailed. A new grape boycott begins against growers who refuse to renew contracts.
1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act is signed by California Governor, Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown. This legislation guarantees farm workers in California the right to bargain collectively through their union. It is the first bill of rights enacted for farm workers in the United States.
1977 Chávez and the Teamsters agree that the UFW will represent all farm workers.
1978 Boycotts of lettuce and grapes end.
1985 Chávez leads a UFW march seeking increased wages and better working conditions.
1987 Chávez and consumer advocate Ralph Nader call for a nationwide boycott of grapes treated with pesticides listed as hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency.
1988 A 36 day fast publicizes the UFW boycott of California grapes and the need for stronger protection against the use of pesticides.
1990 Actively continuing the protest against the use of pesticides on table grapes, Chávez is arrested picketing outside of a Los Angeles supermarket.
1991 Chávez completes a speaking tour of colleges to provide information about the UFW's boycott of California table grapes.
1992 Chávez becomes a visiting lecturer of Farm Labor History in California at the University of California, Santa Monica. He travels extensively to the far east (major buyers of California table grapes) to talked about the poor working conditions and effects of pesticides on farm workers.
1993 César Chávez dies on April 23, in San Luis, Arizona.