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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

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  • November 22, 2010
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"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is the cornerstone of our nations Declaration of Independence. When considering this quote and identifying an individual or group of individuals who have continued to pursue this belief in the twentieth century and beyond, one must consider the name Cesar Chavez and the organization, The United Farm Workers, he was so instrumental in its formation, as being synonymous with this phrase. (U.S. Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776))

Cesar Estrada Chavez was born March 31, 1927 on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona that his grandfather had homesteaded during the 1880's. Chavez was the second born of six children to Librado and Juana Chavez. At age 7 Cesar began school, but found it very difficult due to the fact that his family only spoke Spanish. Chavez preferred to learn from his uncles and grandparents who would read to him in Spanish and additionally he learned many things from his mother who believed that violence and selfishness were wrong and stressed this with all her children. In the 1930's, at age 10, Chavez was forced to begin his life as a migrant farm worker when his father lost the land homesteaded by his grandfather during the Great Depression. These were bitterly poor times for the Chavez family and together with thousands of other displaced families, they migrated throughout the Southwestern United States, laboring in the fields and vineyards. Cesar in an effort to help support his parents and brothers and sisters dropped out of school after the eighth grade. (www.clnet.ucla.edu)

At the age of 18, Chavez joined the U.S. Navy and served in the western Pacific front during the end of World War II. In 1948, Cesar married Helen Fabela, who he had met while working the vineyards in Delano, they later settled in the East San Jose barrio of Sal Si Puedes, where Chavez later authored a book entitled "Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can)".

Following his return from serving in the U.S. Navy and his marriage to...