César Chávez (1927–1993), revered in the labor and civil rights movements, inspired thousands of farm workers to unionize for dignity and attain contracts that would give them livable wages and working conditions.
Against great odds, he established the United Farm Workers of America and used the strike (la huelga), the boycott, and fasting to gain a better life for oppressed workers. Although he initially organized Mexican American workers in the Southwest, Chávez later expanded the movement to involve other ethnic groups.
NEA presents the César Chávez Acción y Compromiso Human and Civil Rights Award to a nominee who follows in the exemplary footsteps of César Chávez in philosophy, work, and leadership. To be eligible for this award, the nominee must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Engage in activities that dignify workers and their jobs and give them hope for a better life. Exemplify the nonviolent philosophy of César Chávez in improving the status of labor and the lives of workers.
- Demonstrate devotion, resilience, and strength in organizing traditionally disadvantaged workers.
- Combine labor relations techniques and grassroots organizing to achieve improvements in working conditions
- Make notable contributions to the labor movement through commitment, action, and negotiation.
- Organize racially/ethnically diverse groups to support and empower disadvantaged workers and their families.
Awarded in even- and odd-numbered years.