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Helen Fabela Chávez

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Rachel Atzmon

on 11 December 2015

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Transcript of Helen Fabela Chávez

The Untold Story of the Farmer's Movement with Helen Fabela Chávez
An Introduction to Helen Fabela Chávez and the United Farmer Workers
Helen was born on January 21, 1928 in California as a first-generation Mexican American and grew up on a farm. Helen dropped out of high school to help support her family by working in the fields with her family. Helen met her husband, Cesar Chávez, while they were both farm workers in the mid-1940s.

Helen Chávez was always her husband's closest and best supporter. Helen and César made the decision to give up their secure, middle-class life and in 1962 move their family to Delano, where they began what would become the United Farm Workers of America.





Primary source 7: Photo of Helen and César breaking their fast with the president on March 10th
How important do you think this event must have been to have the president come?
Where are they?
Why were they fasting?
Did Helen fast with César?
Primary source 2: Photo of Helen and César Chávez
What was Cesar working on?
Is Helen helping him?
How must she have felt having the spotlight on her husband?
Is this a posed photo?
Primary source 1: Helen, César, and family
Where might this photo have been taken?
What responsibilities might Helen have as a mother of six?
Primary source 3: "Remembering the Invisible Women Behind César Chávez's Throne" article from Los Angeles Times
How do you think Helen felt working during the day and fulfulling traditional mother roles at night?
How do you think Helen felt about balancing her roles as mother, worker, and activist union leader?
How do you think Helen's role as an activist with her husband impacted the union?
Primary source 4: Helen and César Chávez Protesting
The Farmers Movement
The working conditions for farmers were similar to the living conditions in third world countries. Farmers made little to no money for the hard work they did. The movement started in Delano, California. The union started strikes from farmers and companies as well as boycotts from buying products such as grapes without union labels.

Huelga was the battle cry of the UFW. Huelga (Spanish word for strike) was one of the most powerful tool workers used to fight for their rights. By walking off the fields and refusing to work, farm workers continue, as they have for years, to demand that their rights as human beings be respected.



Primary source 8: "Farm Workers Initiative is Needed to Guard Against Abuses 1976" written by César Chávez
Primary source 9: "The United Farm Workers: A Translation of American Idealism" written by John R. Moyer 1973
Why do you think it took so long for farm workers to gain rights to vote?
How must the workers have felt after gaining these new rights?
How would you feel being told "no" to your rights as an American?
http://obrag.org/?p=5820#.VkOqvYtOjYU
http://chavez.cde.ca.gov/ModelCurriculum/Teachers/Lessons/Resources/Biographies/Biographical_Sketch_4thGrd.aspx
http://www.latinpost.com/articles/6252/20140122/helen-chávez-former-labor-activist-wife-of-césar-chávez-united-farm-workers-of-america-helen-chavez-helen-chavez-turns-86.htm
http://thehispanicblog.com/tag/tucson-unified-school-district/
http://www.ufw.org/_board.php?mode=view&b_code=50_history&b_no=11759
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/14/local/me-17162
http://obrag.org/?p=5820
https://reuther.wayne.edu/node/300
http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?menu=research&inc=history/03.html
https://libraries.ucsd.edu/farmworkermovement/essays/essays/MillerArchive/059%20Farm%20Worker%20Initiative%20Is%20Needed.pdf
https://libraries.ucsd.edu/farmworkermovement/essays/essays/MillerArchive/054%20The%20United%20Farm%20Workers.pdf

Helen as a Mother, Supporter, and Activist


Helen was extremely active in protests, strikes, and demonstrates to help Mexican American farm workers in California getting the rights they deserved. Helen was even arrested four times for "civil disobedience" during demonstrations. Women were the backbone of the farmworker movement and many women looked to Helen Chavez for inspiration, modeling and guidance. Helen Chavez was a full partner with her husband in the creation and development of the farmworker movement. She was not a passive participant or a spouse who simply tolerated the full-time missionary work of a husband.
Link to full article:
http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/14/local/me-17162
Primary source 6: Helen Chávez preparing food to feed farmworkers in Delano while César Chávez fasted for promoting nonviolence their cause 1972
Primary source 5: "Huelga" form the César Chávez movie (2014)
Why do you think Helen kept screaming "Huelga" even thought the police told her to stop?
Why was there a court order for Helen to not use that word?
How do you think she felt after joined in with chant?
Final Thoughts and Questions
“Without Helen by his side, César Chávez could not have devoted his life to the struggle for social justice for farmworkers. While she never spoke in public, her steadfast and loyal presence was felt throughout the length and breadth of the farmworker movement.” - A quote from the "Trivute to Helen Chávez

Why was Helen left out of the spot light even though she was such an important part of the movement?


Why are Helen, César, and the union protesting?
Where are they protesting?
What conditions led to the protest?
What is written on the signs? What are the symbols on the signs?
How do you think the workers felt getting free, cooked food form Helen?
How bad were the working and living conditions of workers for Helen and other to feel it nessesary to help?
Resources:
From this article, how do you think the farmers felt about their working conditions before the movement started?
Why could the farm workes not vote?
Table of Contents
Primary source 1: Photo of Helen, César, and family

Primary source 2: Photo of Helen and César

Primary source 3: "Remembering the Invisible Women Behind César Chávez's Throne" article from Los Angeles Times

Primary source 4: Photo of Helen and César Protesting

Primary source 5: Video clip of "Huelga" form the César Chávez movie (2014)

Primary source 6: Photo of Helen preparing food to feed farmworkers in Delano while César fasted for promoting nonviolence their cause 1972

Primary source 7: Photo of Helen and César breaking their fast with the president on March 10th

Primary source 8: "Farm Workers Initiative is Needed to Guard Against Abuses 1976" written by César Chávez

Primary source 9: "The United Farm Workers: A Translation of American Idealism" written by John R. Moyer 1973
The United Farm Workers union sought recognition of the importance and dignity of all farm workers. Helen worked along side her husband in the union. In 1968 Cesar went on a water only, 25 day fast. He repeated the fast in 1972 for 24 days, and again in 1988, this time for 36 days. Helen had an important role in the movement as a partner and leader. Helen worked in communities by holding food drives and protesting with other farm workers.
The United Farm Workers, César, and Helen in Action
Helen Chávez and the UFW Today
The UFW is still active today. After César Chávez passed away in 1993, Helen continued to be involved in the UFW. In 1994, Helen accepted the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in César's honor.

In 2008, Helen was awarded Latina of the Year by the National Latino Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles Chapter.
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