Life as a Migrant Family

Cesar Chavez's family 0 Awesome Teacher Story Share American History Biographies Civil Rights Famous People

Life, for a migrant family, was very difficult.  The Chavez family moved frquently, following the crops.  At one point they were forced to live in a broken-down garage with no electricity or water.  

Farm workers were paid by the bucket, earning 40 cents for a large bucket of vegetables.  At this rate, Cesar's family would have to pick 125 buckets (2 tons of produce) to make $50.  

They had no help from state services, and no medical care. The whole family worked in the fields because child labor laws were mostly ignored by the big produce companies.

Then, more tragedy struck: 

  • Cesar's sister died from drinking contaminated water.  
  • The cruelties of poverty were multiplied by the racial and ethnic discrimination the Chavez family endured.
  • Cesar felt the sting of prejudice when he would see signs which read, "No Dogs or Mexicans" or "Whites Only." 
  • Most of the stores, movie theaters, buses, restrooms and public facilities were off-limits to Cesar and other migrant workers.

Because his family moved frequently in search of work, Cesar attended 65 schools during his youth—sometimes for a week, sometimes for a day, sometimes not at all because he was needed in the fields.  But Cesar realized the value of education and, with every chance he had, he would go to the public library to read.  

It was there, in California's public libraries, where Cesar read about great people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Saint Francis of Assisi. And it was their infuence which helped to form his belief in justice, equality, compassion and human dignity.

Original Release: Aug 10, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

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