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The late Cesar Chavez (1927-1993) was a World War II-era Navy veteran and farm worker who rose to become one of most important individuals in American labor history. As a poorly-paid Mexican-American farmhand among a sea of similarly distraught migrant and minority laborers, Chavez became an active and influential organizer of farm workers during the 1950s and 1960s. As founder of the National Farm Workers Association, which would later become the United Farm Workers (UFW), while organizing strikes against California grape growers, Chavez was successful in improving the wages and working conditions of these workers.
To the exent that Cesar Chavez could be seen as having a "guiding principle" or dictum, it would include his advocacy of nonviolent resistance, protection of the diginity of migrant farm workers, the right of such workers to organize, and the advancement of broader principles of human and civil rights -- the latter being a particularly couragous stance during the turbulent period of the Fifties and Sixties. A posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, Chavez remains an iconic figure in American history.
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