April 1, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY13) issued the following statement in recognition of César Estrada Chávez, on Cesar Chávez Day.

“Today, we honor César Estrada Chávez, a great civil rights activist who fought arduously for labor rights, anti-discrimination, and favorable immigration laws,” said Rep. Espaillat.

“Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona, into a family of eight, Chávez grew up working on a farm to provide for his family.  His parents were of Mexican descent, and he experienced vicious racism which lead to a career in civil rights.  After serving with distinction in the United States Navy, Chávez returned home and began organizing farm workers so that they could campaign for their rights. 

“At age 25, he founded the Community Service Organization (CSO), which fought for Latino rights, workers’ rights, and he used the platform to stress the importance of education and voting rights.  At age 35, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), that fought for a wage increase for farm workers.  Through his work at NFWA, he organized a nation-wide boycott that lasted for five years and caught the attention of Robert F. Kennedy, the then member of the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor. 

“Chávez’ role as in the labor rights movement inspired the formation of labor unions in the Midwest to protect labor rights, and under this leadership, the United Farm Workers of America organized thousands of migrant farm workers to fight for their civil rights.  His slogan, ‘Si, se puede,’ which means “Yes, one can” inspired President Barack Obama’s ‘Yes, we can’ used during the 2008 presidential election. 

“Cesar Chávez forever changed American culture and his legacy extends beyond agriculture to provide inspiration for our efforts in championing human rights, labor rights, and in advancing the American Dream.”

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Media inquiries: Candace Randle Person at