Chavez 2007




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Cesar E. Chavez 2007

Happy Birthday Cesar E. Chavez!


Chavez is best known as the founder of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW). He was a tireless advocate for nonviolent social change, and dedicated his life to working in service of others. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy called Chavez "one of the heroic figures of our time."

A second-generation American, Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, near his family's farm in Yuma, Ariz. At age 10, his family became migrant farm workers after losing their farm in the Great Depression. Throughout his youth and into his adulthood, Chavez migrated across the Southwest laboring in the fields and vineyards, where he was exposed to the hardships and injustices of farm worker life.

After achieving only an eighth-grade education, Chavez left school to work in the fields full-time to support his family. He attended more than 30 elementary and middle schools. Although his formal education ended then, he possessed an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and was self-taught in many fields and well read throughout his life.

Chavez joined the U.S. Navy in 1946 and served in the Western Pacific in the aftermath of World War II.

Chavez's life as a community organizer began in 1952 when he joined the Community Service Organization (CSO), a prominent Latino civil rights group. While with the CSO, Chavez coordinated voter registration drives and conducted campaigns against racial and economic discrimination primarily in urban areas. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Chavez served as CSO's national director.

In 1962 Chavez resigned from the CSO to establish the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.

For more then three decades Chavez led the first successful farm workers union in American history, achieving dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits and humane living conditions as well as countless other rights and protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers. His union's efforts brought about the passage of the groundbreaking 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farm workers. Today, it remains the only law in the nation that protects the right of farm workers to unionize.

Chavez passed away on April 23, 1993, in San Luis, Ariz.

The stamp image was painted by freelance illustrator Robert Rodriguez and features a portrait of Chavez against a background of empty grape fields. Rodriguez based the portrait on a 1976 photograph of Chavez taken by Bob Fitch and provided to the Postal Service by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation in Los Angeles, Calif. Rodriguez based the background on an aerial photograph taken in the 1960s by Ted Streshinsky. (USPS)

Info from Stamp Release #02-072 USPS

Glendale Chamber Foundation's fourth annual 
Cesar E. Chavez Breakfast Celebrating Diversity
Raised $5000

Glendale AZ- GDP-Ed Sharpe> The Glendale Chamber Foundation's fourth-annual Cesar Chavez Breakfast kicked off at 7:30 a.m. Friday March, 30 at the Glendale Civic Center ballroom. The breakfastwas  open to the public.


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The Glendale Chamber Foundation raised 

$5,000 Dollars to contribute to the 

Cesar Chavez Foundation.


  Glendale Chamber Foundation's fourth annual 
Cesar E. Chavez Breakfast Celebrating Diversity

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Luis Valdez Presented  Cesar Chavez Day Keynote Address At Glendale Arizona Civic Center  

Longtime friend of Chavez's continues dream to assist others


Luis Valdez related to  when he first pitched  the idea of El Teatro Campesino to farm-worker champion Cesar Chavez, who replied there was no money to fund it! Valdez didn't let that stop him.

Valdez was born in Delano, California, in 1940 in a migrant labor camp. Chavez's family moved in nearby a year later. Valdez experienced firsthand the harsh life of migrant farm laborers.

During the  famous 1965 Grape Strike strike in California, Valdez had joined Chávez in his efforts to organize the farm workers of Delano. It was there that Valdez brought together farm workers and students to found El Teatro Campesino (the Workers' Theater). Chavez's activism inspired Valdez to go ahead with the theater group, which still operates today at the historic Mission San Juan Bautista in California.

Valdez refers to his start up theater effort "I learned how to create something out of nothing," Valdez continues "The man created a movement out of nothing."

Valdez related when he started out there were many  ethnic groups working in the fields in California,  Blacks, Mexicans, people from Oklahoma

He credits Chavez for inspiring him,  changing his life providing focus. Luis continues to live and spread Chavez's vision through his lectures,  theatre and life.

Valdez poised the question to the audience: "To whom does the future belong?"


 Watch a video of Luis Valdez's keynote address!

 My written words are nothing  compared to hearing the man speak!


Luis Valdez - life, theater and film highlights

  • Valdez was born in 1940 in Delano, California, into a family of migrant farm workers.
  •  At the age of six he began to work in the fields with his parents and nine brothers and sisters. 
  • Valdez finished high school and to attend San Jose State College majoring in English and explored his interest in theater.
  •  While in college he won a writing contest for his play, The Theft. Later, the college's drama department produced The Shrunken Head of Pancho Villa, his play about the problems facing a Mexican couple in America.
  • After graduating from college in 1964, Valdez joined the San Francisco Mime Troupe and during this time he learned the techniques of agitprop (agitation and propaganda) theater, in which a play puts forth political views and tries to spur the audience to act on those views.
  • For years migrant farm workers had to endure unhealthy working conditions. They worked long hours for extremely low wages and received no benefits. Finally, in 1965, migrant grape pickers in Delano decided to go on strike. These workers were backed by the labor leader César Chávez and the migrant worker union he helped found, the National Farm Workers Association.
  • After the strike began, Valdez joined Chávez in his efforts to organize the farm workers of Delano. It was there that Valdez brought together farm workers and students to found El Teatro Campesino (the Workers' Theater). 
  • In 1967 Valdez and El Teatro Campesino left the vineyards and lettuce fields to create a theater for the entire Mexican American nation. The movement evolved into teatro chicano, an agitprop theater that blended traditional theatrical styles with Mexican humor, character types, folklore, and popular culture. 
  • Across America, Mexican American theatrical groups sprang up to stage Valdez's one-act plays, called actos. The actos explored modern issues facing Mexican Americans: the farm workers' struggle for unionization, the Vietnam War, the drive for bilingual education, the war against drug addiction and crime, and community control of parks and schools.
  • In 1971 Valdez published a collection of actos to be used by Mexican American community and student theater groups.
  • In 1978 Valdez broke into mainstream theater with a Los Angeles production of his popular play Zoot Suit, about Mexican-American gang members during the Los Angeles race riots of 1942-43. It was then made into a film in 1982
  • Valdez's play Corridos was the dramatization of a series of Mexican folk ballads, won the praise of theater critics. It was then made into a television production that aired on PBS in the fall of 1987. 
  • La Bamba  - Entertainment, A History Lesson and A Biography - We all took notice... Valdez's breakthrough into mainstream America, was La Bamba, the screen biography of Ritchie Valens, the 1950s Mexican American rock-and-roll singer. Through this movie America learned not only about the tragically short life of Valens but also about the lifestyle and other elements of the Mexican American community. The movie was an overwhelming box office success and brought Valdez's writing and directing talents to be noticed  by a nation who grew up hearing the popular song La Bamba.

Valdez holds honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, the University of Santa Clara, Columbia College of Chicago, and the California Institute of the Arts. He is also a founding faculty member of the new California State University Monterey Bay and a founding member of the California Arts Council. His awards include the George Peabody Award (1987), the Governor's Award (1990), and Mexico's prestigious Aguila Azteca Award (1994). 

wpe31.gif (76327 bytes)Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs with Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino pose for a photo following yesterdays gala breakfast where Luis was the keynote speaker  (Photo- Ed Sharpe Glendale Daily Planet)

Luis Valdez

Luis Valdez (born 1940) was founder of the El Teatro Campesino in California and is considered to be the father of Mexican American theater.

Mexican Americans must be seen as a nation with roots spreading back to the ancient Aztec...

Watch a video of Luis Valdez's keynote address!

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Director/Productor Luis Valdez and Councilmember Manny Martenez

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Ed Sharpe and Luis Valdez
KKAT-IPTV / Glendale Daily Planet

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Other great links on Cesar Chavez from  the Los Angles Library

César E. Chávez Home Page | César E. Chávez Community Service Week | Community and Library Events
Honoring César E. Chávez | Share Your Memories of César Chávez | Story of the UFW Flag
Reading Lists | César E. Chávez Web Links | Prayer of the Farm Worker's Struggle
César E. Chávez Chronology | Some Facts About César E. Chávez | César E. Chávez Curriculum




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