5 inspirational facts about César Chávez

Julia Trowbridge

Photo by Leffler, Warren K., courtesy of Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016646405/)

César Chávez, a labor leader and civil rights activist, has had a significant impact on the rights of farm workers. So significant, in fact, that Barack Obama made his birthday, March 31, a federal commemorative holiday.

Chávez, an civil rights activist in the mid 1900s, co-founded the United Farm Workers union to fight for the rights of Mexican-American immigrants being exploited for their labor. In his time of activism, Chávez and the UFW union convinced Americans to boycott produce items, like grapes, throughout the country, so farm workers to receive higher wages. His work in activism was recognized by important public figures like Robert F Kennedy and Obama.

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To celebrate César Chávez Day, here are five cool facts about Chávez’s legacy:

1. Barack Obama adopted the slogan Chávez made famous for his 2008 election campaign.

Although the slogan was created by the co-founder of the UFW union, Dolores Huerta, Chávez made the slogan popular in the UFW union. For Obama’s 2008 campaign, the English translation of the UFW union slogan “Sí se puede,” or “Yes, we can,” was chanted, along with Obama’s written slogan “Change We Can Believe In.”

2. Chávez’s wife, Helen Chávez, donated his Union jacket to a branch of the Smithsonian. 

After the death of César Chávez in 1993, Helen Chávez donated his black Union jacket to the National American Museum of History. Although not currently on display, the National American Museum of History recognizes Chávez’s inspirational, non-violent fight for a safe work place and a decent wage.

3. Chávez was a vegan.

Chávez, an activist of many forms, also believed in animal rights. This, in addition to his health, is why he didn’t eat any animal-based products.

4. There are a decent amount of places named after Chávez. 

Although predominately in California and Texas, there are many things named after Chávez, like parks, public schools, roads and even a community in Texas. Other states that named places after Chávez include Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C.

5. Chávez was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. 

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Chávez was nominated three times by the American Friends Service Committee in 1971, 1974 and 1975. According to CNN, he was a popular choice for the prize, although he never received it.

Collegian reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.