Truthdig tips its hat this week to César E. Chávez, the Mexican-American labor organizer and activist who fought for the rights of farm workers, Latinos and other disenfranchised groups from the early 1950s until his death in 1993. He was instrumental in the formation of several farm workers unions, including the National Farm Workers Association and the United Farm Workers, and his method of nonviolent organizing, boycotting and striking led to major changes in workers’ conditions and inspired many other groups to adopt a similar approach.

Chávez’s influence continues to grow, as evidenced by the streets, parks and schools around the country that have been named or renamed after him. However, his significance extends far beyond the level of architectural commemoration. The César E. Chávez Foundation, for example, is partly an educational resource about his life and work, but it also focuses on outreach programs to help people improve their communities using his methods and values.

While Chávez’s birthday is recognized as a holiday in several states for state workers, many Latinos are protesting to make César Chávez Day a day off for schoolchildren and county workers, according to the Los Angeles Times. On Friday, hundreds of students from middle school through college either walked out of class or didn’t show up in order to join a march to City Hall to honor Chávez and to raise awareness about workers’ rights and migration issues — a testimony to his living legacy.

More links:

The César E. Chávez Foundation home

The National Chávez Center

Events calendar at the foundation

United Farm Workers home page

L.A. Times on Friday’s student walkouts (Registration wall)

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