Who Was César Chávez?

Photo by: Wikimedia Commons


From east César Chávez Street to the César Chávez neighborhood, Chávez’s presence is obvious in our city. So who was César Chávez?

César Chávez was one of the best-known Latino American civil rights activists who fought for social justice. He was born on March 31, 1927 outside of Yuma, Arizona. According to, from the young age of 10, César became a migrant farm worker; he was forced to drop out of school after completing the eighth grade in order to help his family out. As a farm worker, César was exposed to the hardships and injustices of the farm worker life.

In the early 1960’s he founded the United Farm Workers Association, the nations first successful and largest farm workers union. Chávez lead the organization as president and was able to win the first union contracts for agriculture workers in the grape fields – from here millions followed his lead on his journey for equality and unity and won enormous achievements for farm workers for civil rights, political representation for minorities and environmental justice.

The impact César Chávez made has positively influenced and inspired millions of people from all over the country. He had a motto ,“Si se puede!” (Yes, it can be done!), which was coined in the early 1970’s and perfectly exemplifies his legacy. In honor of César, various schools, parks, streets and other public facilities have been named after him.

César Chávez Day is observed in the United States on March 31st, César Chávez’s birthday, and serves as a tribute to his commitment to social justice. Just as other heroes, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama and Mahatma Ghandi, César Chávez has left a lasting mark on our society by helping fight against injustices.

“From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.” – César Chávez

If you like history, check out our timeline to see what Austin looked like 90 years ago!