Top 10 Facts You Should Know About César Chávez


Photo: Mural at César Chávez Elementary School in the Mission.

There’s César Chávez Street. Many murals featuring the leader. Even César Chávez Elementary School, part of the Mission Promise Neighborhood community anti-poverty education initiative, for which MEDA is the lead agency. Yes, we can easily see that Chávez and San Francisco’s Mission District are intricately intertwined. 

Please take some time on César Chávez Day, which is commemorated March 31, to reflect on all the great work this inspirational leader did to make our Mission community — and the world — a much better place.

Some facts:

  1. Chávez was born in 1927 in Yuma, Ariz., with his family living in an adobe home built by his grandfather.
  2. Chávez’ family lost their farm due to back taxes and had to become migrant farm workers to make a living.
  3. Chávez was a vegetarian. 
  4. After moving to California, Chávez’ family lived in a underresourced neighborhood, Salsipuedes; ironically, this town’s name translates as “escape if you can.”
  5. Chávez helped found the National Farm Workers Association.
  6. One of Chávez’ first major actions was a Delano, Calif., strike against grape farmers. Chávez and 67 workers decided to march the 340 miles to the state capital of Sacramento, which took several weeks. The crowd grew larger en route, so much so that thousands showed up in Sacramento. In the end, the grape growers agreed to many of the worker’s conditions and signed a contract with the union.
  7. Chávez turned down a prestigious job from President John F. Kennedy; Chávez preferred to keep working with his union.
  8. After his 1993 death, Chávez was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  9. Chávez’ motto was “Sí, se puede,” translating to “Yes, we can.”
  10. César Chávez is a 2014 movie with Michael Pena in the starring role and America Ferrara as Chávez’ wife, Helen.