One night in the 1880's, a man named Cesario Chavez crossed the border from Chihuahua, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas. He was fleeing the hardships of his homeland to make a better life in the United States for his family. Decades later, his grandson, Cesar Chavez, would make a stand in the fields of California to fight for a better life for all farm workers.
Cesario and his wife Dorotea worked very hard. Their children married and had children. The whole family lived in the Arizona desert near the town of Yuma and worked as farmers. One of Cesario's sons, Librado, married Juana Estrada, a woman who had also come from Chihuahua. Together they had six children. Cesar, was born in 1927, he was their second child and the oldest son.
Librado chavez was a hardworking man, and he prospered. In addition to farming, he operated a general store and was elected the local postmaster.
"I had more happy moments as a child than unhappy moments," Chavez later recalled. Librado was good to his children, he even made their toys, but he was too busy to spend much time with them. "My mom kept the family together," Chavez had said.
When Cesar was ten years old, disaster struck. Librado made a business deal with a neighbor who did not keep his part of the bargain. In the end, the Chavez family lost their farm and all their belongings. It was 1937, the period following the Stock Market crash, the country had not yet recovered from the Great Depression. There were very few jobs, and many people were homeless. To make matters worse, the Southwest was experiencing severe droughts at this time.
By 1938, the Chavez family had joined some 300,000 migrant workes who followed the crops in California. Migrant...