The civil rights and labor activist César Chávez is featured in the latest display at the Central Fort Worth Public Library.
“In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez” is a collection of photographs and autobiographical reflections produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
At the Central Library through Oct. 22, the exhibition covers Chávez’s childhood through his years as a civil rights leader and labor activist.
Featuring 38 photographs that align with personal recollections, “In His Own Words” examines the ethics and experiences that drove Chávez and his passion for improving the lives of American farmworkers.
Chávez was no stranger to the Fort Worth area. In 1967, when the Texas American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) held its annual convention at Fort Worth’s Hotel Texas, Chávez spoke to the delegates in a general session. At the time, he was director of the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and understood the difficulties these laborers faced.
Returning to Fort Worth in 1969, Chávez was a chief supporter of the Delano Grape Strike, when Filipino and Mexican laborers crusaded for medical care and retirement benefits from the supermarket.
According to Fort Worth’s website, “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 goes on to highlight that “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.”
The Fort Worth exhibit seeks to highlight his legacy.