PALMDALE – Cesar Chavez Day, the state holiday honoring the late labor leader credited with improving work and quality of life conditions for immigrant farm workers in Central California, will be observed Tuesday on the 93rd anniversary of his birth.
Chavez, an advocate of nonviolence, is best remembered for spearheading a grape boycott in 1965 that went nationwide in 1968 and lasted until 1978, resulting in higher wages for farm workers and focusing national attention on their plight.
Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, Chavez dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his family by joining them in the fields as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the many adversities these workers faced daily.
Chavez joined the Community Service Organization in 1952, urging Latinos to register to vote.
Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with Dolores Huerta. The union merged in 1965 with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers.
Chavez and the UFW played an instrumental role in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which made California the first state to give farm workers the right to seek union representation and bargain collectively within an established legal framework.
Chavez died in 1993 at age 66.
Then-Gov. Gray Davis signed legislation in 2000 creating the state holiday.