César Chávez: Commonwealth Address

(1984)

César Chávez, the leader of the United Farm Workers of America, saw the hopes for better lives for Mexican, Mexican American, and Hispanic workers in the United States repeatedly raised, sunk, and revived again. Many factors contributed to this seemingly unending pendulum swing from hopefulness to despair, and his Commonwealth Address highlights some of these factors. The address offers a window into Chávez’s keen awareness of the plights of the farmworkers whom he represented as well as of Latinos in general.

Chávez delivered the speech to the Commonwealth Club of California on November 9, 1984. Among the several issues addressed in this speech are the blunt disregard of growers for the provision of safe vehicles to transport farmworkers, the intimidation tactics used by growers to discourage unionization among farmworkers, child labor concerns, union survival, pesticides and environmental concerns, Chávez’s nonviolence philosophy, and the role of the boycott in...

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