Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Cesar Chavez

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
Photo of Cesar Chavez and his quote: If you want to remember me, organize!

Why are the libraries closed on Monday? The answer is Cesar Chavez Day. The holiday celebrates the birthday and legacy of the civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez.

Cesar Chavez was born near Yuma, Arizona, on March 31, 1927. As a migrant farm worker himself from the age of 10, Cesar Chavez became active with organizations that helped fight discrimination against Chicano residents and migrant farm workers. Along with Dolores Huerta, Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later to become the United Farm Workers) in the early 1960s. The focus of the UFW was the plight of migrant farm workers and their labor conditions.

As the organization gained support, it eventually became the first successful farm workers’ union in the United States. The UFW organized many strikes and boycotts including the Salad Bowl strike, the largest farm worker strike in U.S. history, to protest for, and later win, higher wages for those farm workers who were working for grape and lettuce growers. Cesar Chavez remained president of the UFW until his death on April 23, 1993.

The Los Angeles Public Library has an amazing collection of historic photos documenting Chavez’s activism in Los Angeles, as well as a number of books about Chavez and the labor movement in California.

Chavez walks with picket sign

Cesar Chavez holding a picket sign and walking with union members outside a Safeway market. The picket signs read, "Don't buy Red Coach lettuce." Herald-Examiner Collection

Chavez boycotts Chiquita Banana

Cesar Chavez brings boycott to Los Angeles against Chiquita Bananas in front of a Safeway. Herald-Examiner Collection


Cesar Chavez and woman picket during strike by U.R.W., circa 1969. Shades of L.A. Collection

Cesar Chavez and GM workers rally on plant closing

UFW Local 645 President Pete Beltran, left, Cesar Chavez, and Maxine Waters are pictured at a large rally of UAW (United Automobile Workers) Van Nuys. May 14, 1983. Herald-Examiner Collection

Chavez attends UAW rally against Douglas aircraft

Terry Moore hugs United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez at the UAW rally against Douglas aircraft at Long Beach Park. 1984. Herald-Examiner Collection

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez
Pawel, Miriam, 1958-

Cesar Chavez: A Photographic Essay
Stavans, Ilan.

Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can). Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution
Matthiessen, Peter.

Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa
Levy, Jacques E.

Cesar Chavez directed by Diego Luna

ALOUD Podcasts