Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta, and the
National Farm Workers Association During the Chicano Movement

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Background Information and The Chicano Movement

The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement began in the 1940s, and was a powerful period of time where much change occurred throughout the country. Before the Civil Rights Movement, Mexican Americans were treated extremely poorly and had little to no rights as workers, and as humans. This time period was one of great struggle, strife, and hardship for laborers, specifically focusing on the Mexican Americans and the farm workers. During the 1960s, the Chicano movement took off as an extension of the Civil Rights Movement, and through hard work, many rights were gained for farm workers and Mexican Americans. Land grants were restored, farm workers' rights were gained, education was advanced, voting rights emerged, and the general uplifting of the farm workers lives occurred. The majority of Americans did not know about the inhumane conditions of the farm workers, and the revealing work of activist leaders helped to change their lives as more and more people supported the struggle. These achievements were a huge success as many leaders dedicated their lives to this fight. Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were two of the most influential leaders of this time. They were a part of some of the many activist groups that existed, and their work has left a lasting impact that will inspire society for hundreds of years to come.

The Inspiring Leaders: Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

Known as some of the most inspiring leaders in history, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta brought much change to this country. Chavez was born in the 1920s into a poor Latino farm working family. His humble upbringing caused him to have much compassion with the desire to help other people. As national director of the Community Service Organization (CSO), he helped fight for the civil rights of Latinos. However, this activist group was not what he had envisioned, and after resigning from the CSO he formed the National Farm Workers Association. Although fighting for civil rights for Latinos was important to him, he wanted to do more for farm workers. His dream was to protect the rights of farm workers and to help the lives of farm workers with new laws and regulations he hoped to push for. His work that he achieved during his lifetime drastically changed the safety and welfare of farm workers jobs.
Dolores Huerta, a woman known for incredible skills and hard work, worked closely with Chavez throughout her life. Dolores Huerta was born in the 1930s, and was inspired by her generous hard working mother. As she became involved with groups such as the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and the Community Service Organization (CSO), she soon met Chavez. Both of them shared similar dreams of helping farm workers, and they soon decided to form the National Farm Workers Association together. Huerta and Chavez were very close, and often fought over matters. However, they had a similar dream to help other people, and this drove their association to achieve great things. Huerta was not only an activist for farm workers, but she was also known as a feminist and a role model for all women. Her leadership position and her inspiring skills in lobbying and motivational speaking influenced many people throughout the country. In 1963, her lobbying skills helped her secure Aid for Dependent Familes, and disability insurance for farm workers in the state of California. Huerta and Chavez were incredible partners in the fight for civil rights, and their dedication changed the world.

The National Farm Workers Association

The National Farm Workers Association, later known as the United Farm Workers, was the first successful farm workers union in America. Founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, this association not only helped its members gain more rights, but also helped them navigate social services and government agencies. Members of the NFWA could participate in a farm workers credit union, a funeral burial program, and the union. This association, as one of the most active, gained all these rights and privileges through its hard work. Leading strikes, boycotts, fasts, and pilgrimages, helped to gain higher wages, better working conditions, fair medical coverage, and workable pensions. One of the most famous boycotts was the Delano Grape Boycott which lasted 5 years and rallied millions of supporters throughout America. The boycott was against the major Delano table and wine grape growers, and by 1970 most of the growers agreed to sign contracts with the United Farm Workers. And by 1975, when Chavez called for a new boycott, polls showed that 17 million Americans honored the boycott forcing the growers to support the 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act which gave "the right of agricultural employees to full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment, and to be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection." After Cesar Chavez passed in 1993, the association lost much of its activity, but it will always be remembered for the great work that Chavez and other leaders put into it.

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A pin that was worn supporting the Delano Grape Boycotts