March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day! Want to learn more about Chavez and the United Farm Workers? Or impress a professor with an A+ paper that uses primary sources to discuss migrant labor? Come to Special Collections! We've got you covered.
In 1962, Cesar Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association (later renamed the United Farm Workers) with Dolores Huerta. Under Chavez's leadership, the UFW demanded union recognition, higher wages, and better field conditions for migrant farm workers. They led boycotts against grape, lettuce, and other produce farmers. In addition, Chavez and the UFW publicized these strikes as moral issues - emphasizing social justice and non-violence. This stance attracted students, non-migrants, and religious leaders. Although Chavez died in 1993, his legacy as a non-violent labor leader and a major contributor to the Latino civil rights movement continues to inspire and empower people from all different backgrounds and walks of life.
Special Collections houses numerous collections and items that document Chavez's tireless efforts to peacefully advocate for labor rights. Check out the Arturo Casares Papers (also digitized and available online). This collection contains captivating photographs of a UFW grape boycott as well as a school essay explaining the importance of the boycott. And if grapes aren't your fruit of choice, you may want to peruse the Radical Ephemera and Underground Publications Collection, which includes an issue of Si Se Puede as well as numerous flyers of UFW-related events. The Enriqueta Chavez Papers likewise pay tribute to the La Huelga, but from a female perspective, and includes issues of Si Se Puede as well. Also be sure to look at the Rene Nunez Memorial Collection, the Sylvia A. Cramer Collection, the Carmen Sandoval Fernandez Poster Collection, and the Unidos Por La Causa online exhibit, which includes fascinating video footage, like the clip shown below.
¡Viva la huelga!
United Farm Workers, c. 1970
Footage courtesy of Sonia Lopez.
Note: this video has no sound.