Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today


Military and Veterans Discount

Contests and


Free AARP E-Books

Protecting Yourself Online for Dummies

Here's the mini guide you need to steer through the hazards with confidence.

Learn More


AARP Games - Play Now!


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

News & Politics Forums

Share your opinions on news and current events that matter most to you.

Join the discussion »

AARP Auto Buying Program



Remembering César Chávez

Fifty years after devoting himself to la causa, a look at the labor leader’s legacy of service

César Chávez, a couple of weeks before his death on April 23, 1993.  The civil and labor rights activist founded the National Association of Farm Workers in 1962, which would become the United Farm Workers (UFW) union in 1966.

— Geoff Hansen/Getty Images

En español | A new documentary and biography are in the works, and there may also be a new movie about César Chávez’s extraordinary life. But it’s his family — he had eight children and 31 grandchildren — who’ve done the most to keep the farmworker champion’s legacy alive.

They remember him as a loving father and grandfather, and an extraordinary role model who pushed them to achieve. They also tell how Chávez, who devoted himself to improving the life of farmworkers, tried to find time to spend with them by bringing family members along on marches and putting even the youngest grandchildren on picket lines and outside supermarkets targeted for protests.

“At the time this was normal to me because I didn’t know anything else,” says granddaughter Julie Chávez Rodríguez, 33. “It wasn’t until later in life that I realized my life was not normal.”

A Mexican American labor leader who used marches, boycotts, and fasts to fight for the rights of migrant farmworkers, César Estrada Chávez, born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, became a symbol of righteous activism. He emulated the nonviolent methods of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, and with Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers, the nation’s first farmworker union, in 1962.

Like King and Gandhi, César Chávez beat the odds through sheer strength of will. And his magnetism and devotion to the cause impressed Americans of all stripes whose boycotts of grapes and lettuce persuaded growers to sign union contracts that protected farmworkers.

Chávez coined a powerful slogan, “¡Sí se puede!” — “Yes we can!” — decades before Barack Obama used it to help usher him into the White House; and, through life-threatening fasts, brought worldwide attention to the plight of U.S. migrant workers. The labor leader, who died in San Luis, Arizona, on April 23, 1993, would have turned 84 this year.

Next: A Call to Serve >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait



Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points