Cesar Chavez (born Cesario Estrada Chavez) was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona and was an American labor leader and civil rights activist. Cesar spent two years in the United States Navy before working as a manual laborer. He moved to California when he got married and became involved in the Community Service Organization (CSO) in Los Angeles where he helped laborers register to vote. He became the CSO’s national director in 1959.
He left the CSO in 1962 to co-found the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) with Dolores Huerta in Delano, California. Later that decade he began organizing strikes among farmworkers, most notably the successful Delano grape strike of 1965–1970. Amid the grape strike, his NFWA merged with Larry Itliong’s organization, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to form the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1967. Chavez emphasized direct but nonviolent tactics, including pickets and boycotts, to pressure farm owners into granting strikers' demands.
He became an icon for organized labor and leftist groups in the U.S. and posthumously became a "folk saint" among Mexican Americans. His birthday is a federal commemorative holiday in several U.S. states, while many places are named after him. In 1994 he posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.