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March 31, 2009

C?sar Ch?vez Day

Today is C?sar Ch?vez was a Mexican American labor activist and leader of the United Farm Workers. During the 20th century he was a leading voice for migrant farm workers (people who move from place to place in order to find work). His tireless leadership focused national attention on these laborers’ terrible working conditions, which eventually led to improvements.

Not to be confused with Che Guevara, leader of “a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy?a tragedy on the hugest scale. (Paul Berman)”

C?sar Estrada Ch?vez (March 31, 1927 ? April 23, 1993) was a Mexican American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Supporters say his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. His birthday has become C?sar Ch?vez Day, a state holiday in eight U.S. states. Many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in cities across the United States.

Later in life, education became C?sar’s focus. The walls of his office in Keene, California (United Farm Worker headquarters) were lined with hundreds of books ranging in subject from philosophy, economics, cooperatives, and unions, to biographies of Gandhi and the Kennedys.

Today may not be an important day of celebration for you, but when you do celebrate something, just make sure you’ know what you’re celebrating.

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