What Was Cesar Chavez's Contribution to History?

Cesar Chavez's leadership and activism led to improvements in working conditions and better pay for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. He founded the National Farm Workers Association and was an advocate for peaceful protest of poor conditions for immigrant and migrant workers.

Chavez was born in 1927 in Yuma, Arizona to immigrants from Mexico. Early in his life, his family moved to California where they traveled from farm to farm, working in the farm fields there. After a brief stint in the Navy, Chavez became interested in community service and helping others, hoping to improve on the horrible working conditions and racism he had experienced as a worker. In 1962, he created an organization to advocate for farm workers, the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farm Workers.

For the next thirty years, Chavez worked tirelessly to build an organization that would give workers a voice and a chance to improve their unfavorable situations. Chavez faced constant opposition and obstacles from the growers, other unions and politicians which often led to defeats. Despite these setbacks, his dedication and accomplishments were enough to make him a popular symbol for Latinos, community activists, laborers and others who supported his goals.