EL Civics for ESL Students

Cesar Chavez Lesson

U.S. History, Civics, and Government
Cesar Chavez, 1927-1993

Grape Fields in California


1. Cesar's full name was Cesar Estrada Chavez, and he was named after his grandfather.

2. Chavez didn't like school when he was young, but when he got older, he read many books.

3. He married Helen Fabela in 1948, and they had eight children.

4. Cesar was awarded the Pacem in Terris award in 1992 by Pope John Paul II. Pacem in Terris means "Peace on Earth."

5. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2006.

6. The United Farm Workers and the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation support the Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday Coalition.

7. The National Holiday Coalition is gathering signatures on petitions to ask Congress to designate March 31, Cesar�s birthday, as Cesar Chavez Day. This would be a federal paid holiday and a day of service and learning in public schools.

  • Cesar Chavez was a Mexican American labor leader who fought for workers' rights and civil rights for farm workers.
  • He was born on March 31, 1927, near Yuma, Arizona.
  • Cesar's father was a farm worker and the family moved a lot. Cesar and his brother attended 37 different schools.
  • Cesar's father had an accident and couldn't work, so Cesar dropped out of school after graduating from 8th grade and went to work in the fields.
  • In 1944, he was arrested for breaking a "whites only" rule in a movie theater.
  • He joined the Navy and fought in World War II.
  • Cesar became a labor leader and co-founded the United Farm Workers with Dolores Huerta.
  • The UFW fought for higher wages for grape-pickers. It led a strike that started in 1966 and lasted for five years.
  • The organization also led a protest march from Delano to Sacramento, the state capital of California.
  • The UFW asked Americans to help the strikers by not buying table grapes.
  • Robert Kennedy supported Cesar Chavez, and shortly after a Senate Subcommitte investigation, strikers won a major labor victory.
  • The success of the UFW led to other strikes and even more successes.
  • Cesar and Huerta worked to prevent farm owners from using new migrants as anti-strike breakers. They felt that such a practice would undermine the success of the farm workers' unions.
  • In later years, Cesar turned his attention to the dangers of pesticides used in farming.
  • He died on April 23, 1993, in Arizona.
  • Four states have holidays on his birthday.
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