César Chávez Exhibit

photo of exhibit with words

Exhibition runs Sept. 12 - Oct. 22, 2021, Central Library

"In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez,” is an exhibition of photographs and autobiographical reflections produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “In His Own Words” is made possible by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Featuring thirty-eight photographs paired with personal recollections, “In His Own Words” examines the ethics and experiences that drove Chávez to work tirelessly to improve the lives of American farm workers, recognizing this important twentieth-century leader as a civil rights hero, an influential labor leader and a champion of change. 


About César Chávez

cesar chavez with shovel in black and whiteAs a child, César Chávez experienced the freedom and joy of growing up on his family’s farm in Yuma, Arizona. But the Great Depression brought hard times, and Chávez’s family was forced from their land into a life of migrant work. Throughout his youth and young adulthood, Chávez experienced the pain and suffering of farm labor and the cruelty of racism.

It was during these difficult times that a seed of determination was planted. Influenced by the principles of his parents and his religion, the ideals of his mentors and the study of successful civil rights leaders, Chávez developed a clear and uncompromising vision for change.

Chávez went on to found the first farm workers union. He worked to secure better pay, improved job safety, better living conditions and many other essential rights and protections for laborers. In turn, he became an inspiration to millions who continue the fight for justice and equality.

Photo Caption: 

César Chávez at work in the community garden at La Paz in Keene, California by Cathy Murphy, 1976. Photo reprinted with permission of the César E. Chávez Foundation and Cathy Murphy.

César Chávez in Fort Worth

54 years ago in August of 1967, the Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) held its annual convention at Fort Worth's Hotel Texas. Senator Ralph Yarborough   and U. S. Representative Jim Wright addressed the convention, and activist César Chávez, then-director of the   United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, spoke to the delegates in a general session. Chávez returned to   Fort Worth two years later in November of 1969 to picket supermarkets in support of the Delano Grape Strike,   when Filipino and Mexican laborers crusaded for medical care and retirement benefits.


The results of the strike   were a consensus on wages, employer contribution to health plans, and protection from exposure to pesticides. Chávez saw Texas as important in the efforts for the AFL-CIO, as evidence in his comment about Texas and California, "In these two states we have the largest number of farm workers employed for the longest period of time." While Chavez was in Fort Worth, he spoke at the All Faiths Thanksgiving service which was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth, saying, "With Thanksgiving tomorrow, it's a cruel irony in this rich society that men, women and children, who suffer the injustices in the fields, who plant, harvest and cultivate the fields, have no food for themselves.