Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cesar E. Chavez: Social Justice Advocate

(updated August 26, 2014)

     March 31st marks what would have been Cesar Chavez's 87th Birthday. In a recent statement from the White House, President Barack Obama declared 3/31 a Cesar Chavez Day, calling Americans to observe this day to honor Cesar’s legacy.

     As an advocate for the farm workers Cesar led the creation of their first union, United Farm Workers of America (UFW), facilitating access to better working conditions, such as rest periods, access to toilets, clean drinking water, and protection against pesticide exposure. Additionally, they gained access to healthcare through a joint union-employer fund and a pension plan. As Cesar said it: "We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community...Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sake and for our own".

     Cesar's advocacy efforts were not limited to farm workers rights, as he also advocated for animal rights. Stephanie Ernst (2011) noted "Chávez also was a voice for and friend to animals. A vegetarian for the last 25 years of his life and a vegan for at least some segment of those years, Chávez did not just make efforts toward removing himself from animal exploitation and call it a personal choice. He called on others to do the same, including many of his friends within the farm labor movement". 

     Today, we continue to find challenges in our localities that require approaches that enhance solidarity and propel better life conditions for our communities. May Cesar’s life continue to inspire us in advocating for those who struggle the most and generating the necessary structures for improving community’s quality of life.

     If you’d like to get a better look at Cesar Chavez life and the UFW movement, you can watch PBS Documentary The Struggle in the Fields, or the recent released film Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez Foundation. (2012). Historic Victories for Union. Retrieved from:

Chicano! PBS Documentary - The Struggle In The Fields

Ernst, S. (2011, March 31). César Chávez: “The Basis for Peace Is Respecting All Creatures”. Retrieved from:

Riojas. R. (2011). The Life and Legacy of Cesar Chavez. Retrieved from:

The White House Office of the Press Secretary. (2014, March 28). Presidential Proclamation - - Cesar Chavez Day, 2014. Retrieved from:

United Farm Workers. (2006). Education of the Heart- Quotes by Cesar Chavez. Retrieved from:

United Farm Workers. (2006). Our vision. Retrieved from:


  1. I notice that the article fails to mention that Mr. Chavez, like other human rights activists (e.g. Angela Davis, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz), was a vegan because he recognized that oppression was oppression no matter the species of the victim. Omission of this fact diminishes the article's message of "...inspiring others to advocate for those who struggle the most...".

    1. veganelder, thank you very much for your comment. The blog post has been updated, including the data you are sharing with us. Thank you!!!