The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography by Miriam PawelCesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography-until now.
In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions-an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest. Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavezs most salient qualities: his profound humanity.
Pawel traces Chavezs remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished Californias powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
Cesar Chavez Facts
Born near Yuma, Arizona, on March 31, , Cesar Chavez employed nonviolent means to bring attention to the plight of farmworkers and formed both the National Farm Workers Association, which later became United Farm Workers. As a labor leader, Chavez led marches, called for boycotts and went on several hunger strikes. It is believed that Chavez's hunger strikes contributed to his death on April 23, , in San Luis, Arizona. Chavez dedicated his life to improving the treatment, pay and working conditions for farmworkers. He knew all too well the hardships farm workers faced.
Relocating to California, where he married, he got involved in the Community Service Organization CSO , through which he helped laborers register to vote.
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In honor of Cesar Chavez Day, here are 10 interesting facts about the civil rights activist.
Mexican-American Cesar Chavez was a prominent union leader and labor organizer. Hardened by his early experience as a migrant worker, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association in His union joined with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in its first strike against grape growers in California, and the two organizations later merged to become the United Farm Workers. Stressing nonviolent methods, Chavez drew attention for his causes via boycotts, marches and hunger strikes. Despite conflicts with the Teamsters union and legal barriers, he was able to secure raises and improve conditions for farm workers in California, Texas, Arizona and Florida. Born in Yuma, Arizona , to immigrant parents, Chavez moved to California with his family in For the next ten years they moved up and down the state working in the fields.