When farm worker and labor organizer Cesar Chavez burst upon America's national scene in 1965, U.S. readers and viewers were witnessing the emergence of a new Mexican American, or Chicano, movement. This biography of Chavez by Richard Griswold del Castillo and Richard A. Garcia is the first to approach Chavez's life -- his courageous acts, his turning points, his many received personas -- in the context of Chicano and American history.
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This biography of Chavez by Richard Griswold del Castillo and Richard A. Garcia is the first to approach Chavez's life - his courageous acts, his turning points, his many perceived personas - in the context of Chicano and American history. It reveals a shy, quiet man who was launched by events into a maelstrom of campesino strikes, religious fervor, and nonviolent battles for justice. Among his friends and supporters he counted Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and millions across America who rallied to his cause. In Griswold del Castillo and Garcia's biography, Chavez's life mirrors major events in Mexican American history: Mexican immigration during the 1920s; forced repatriation in the 1930s; segregation in public schools; Mexican American contributions during World War II; the Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles; formation of Mexican American organizations to advance civil and political rights; the Chicano movement of the 1960s and early 1970s; the emergence of a conservative political backlash in the 1980s; and, finally, the new immigration in the 1990s. Cesar Chavez was touched by all these events, and his story is both private and part of a collective experience.