From the Publisher
In this collection of firsthand accounts by those who knew him best, a portrait of an uncommonly complex man, both driven and focused, yet humble, empathic and exceedingly principled, emerges. The reader gains an understanding of the yoke Chavez chose to place onto his own shoulders as well as the ideals he employed to accomplish for the migrant farmworkers what many predicted would be impossible.
The more than 45 contributors range from the famous: Edward James Olmos, Henry Cisneros, Martin Sheen, Coretta Scott King, Jerry Brown and others to members of the Chavez family, to UFW staff, to the farmworkers themselves. Illustrated by the compelling black and white photographs of George Elfie Ballis, who began photographing the farmworker movement in the 1950s.
Chavez was a migrant farmworker by birth and by trade. Although he was extremely well-read later in life, his formal education ended after the eighth grade. He never owned a house. He didn't own a car. He never made more than $6,000 a year.
For more than 100 years, organizers, on the behalf of farmworkers, had been unsuccessfully trying to form a union. Chavez had a better idea; he took the battle from the few and gave it to the many: to the farmworkers themselves and to the American consumers in communities throughout the nation.
Chavez's sharpest spear was nonviolence; his most devastating sword, the boycott. With these two weapons and an undying dedication to justice, Chavez awakened America to the plight of the migrant farmworker. In doing so, he improved the lives of thousands of farmworkers and taught important lessons about justice and self-sacrifice to countless others.