César Chávez was born on this day in 1927.
César Chávez led the efforts to improve working conditions for California's migrant farm workers and formed the United Farm Workers Union. Chávez was committed to non-violent protest. He conducted several fasts and led a number of strikes and grape boycotts to further the cause of field workers.
Chávez was able to accomplish a great deal in his lifetime, promoting the civil rights and improving the working conditions of migrant farm workers. Have your students name other leaders who, like Chávez, have used non-violent means to achieve their ends. Some examples could include Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, or Susan B. Anthony.
Then, have students work in small groups to research one of these civil rights leaders. Students should find information about the leader's philosophy, the social cause for which he or she was fighting, and some of the specific methods he or she used for peaceful protest. Next, have students work, in their groups, on a creative writing piece. Have students imagine how history might have been different if this person had never lived, or had held a different philosophy. Then ask them to write a short story (or alternately, a play or poem) about this imagined history.
The Library of Congress offers this brief description of César Chávez' work. The page includes a timeline and links to related information.
This resource, based on the PBS film The Fight in the Fields, provides information on Chávez' struggle. Features include information about the film, a timeline, and links to related resources.
This biography, from the California Department of Education, is intended for intermediate students. The detailed account includes related images.
This Internet activity from SCORE encourages upper grade students to select from 11 American labor leaders, including Chávez, and to create museum exhibits highlighting their accomplishments.