Richard Chavez

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Richard Chavez

Template:TOCnestleft Richard Estrada Chavez , long-time farmworker, civil rights advocate and brother of Cesar Chavez, died July 27, 2011, at 81 in Bakersfield, California.

Dolores Huerta, his longtime companion of over 40 years, ten children, seven stepchildren and three great grandchildren survive Richard Chavez.[1]


Richard Estrada Chavez was born on Nov. 12, 1929, in Yuma, Arizona. When he was eight years old, his family was forced into migrant farm work when the family farm was lost to taxes during the Great Depression. They migrated to California where Richard and his older brother, Cesar Chavez, began working in the fields, orchards and vineyards throughout the state. In 1949, the brothers left farm labor to work in the lumber mills.[2]


In 1951, Richard started a carpenter's union apprenticeship program in San Jose and found work framing suburban homes. By 1952, he had moved to Delano and was president of the Delano chapter of the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group.

By trade, Richard was a skilled carpenter and building contractor. But in 1966, he left his job as a carpenter and committed himself to helping his brother Cesar build the organization that would become the United Farm Workers union.

Richard Chavez is credited with helping to build the Forty Acres complex in Delano, which became the union's headquarters. He worked as a union organizer, planning grape and lettuce boycotts as director of the Detroit, Mich., boycott in 1972-73 and the New York City boycotts in 1973-74. Richard chavez was in charge of administering union contracts and oversaw union bargaining.

He retired from the union in 1983 but stayed active in the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, as well as building a tract of homes in Tehachapi and custom homes in Los Angeles.

Many UFW offices, clinics and service centers have been designed, built and remodeled by Richard. He is also known for designing the iconic black Aztec eagle, the powerful symbol that to this day flies on UFW flags.[3]

UFW leaders 1973


The United Farm Workers Executive Board in 1973 included veteran farmworker organizers and activists:(l-r) Dolores Huerta, Mack Lyons, Richard Chavez, Cesar Chavez, Eliseo Medina, Philip Veracruz, Gilbert Padilla, Marshall Ganz and Pete Velasco.

Honoring Cesar Chavez

There was a major march through the streets of San Francisco on March 24, 2002 to mark the 75th birthday of United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez. Parade Grand Marshalls included two UFW founders Dolores Huerta, and Cesar's brother Richard Chavez, as well as Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

At the march rally UFW Arturo Rodriguez spoke of the continuing legacy of Chavez.

Other speakers included;

Supporting Hillary Clinton

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and her partner Richard Chavez, brother of the late Cesar Chavez, kicked off a two-day, seven county tour of California, December 22, 2007, attending "Holiday Parties for Hillary" in Fresno, Sacramento, Richmond, and San Francisco with hundreds of Hillary Clinton supporters.

The statewide tour started on Saturday morning in the City of Fresno at the home of David L. Schecter, Associate Professor of California State University at Fresno, and special guests included Fresno Councilmember Cynthia Sterling. The tour continued in Sacramento, attending a party hosted by campaign volunteers and supporters at the home of Karen Thomas and John McFadden. Early evening, Dolores was in the Bay Area attending the Richmond Holiday Party at the home of Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and Jennifer Peck with guests Pinole Councilmember Stephen Tilton, Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington, Oakland Councilmember Jean Quan and Mayor of San Leandro Anthony B. Santos.

The first day of the tour concluded in San Francisco at the home of Miguel Bustos and Alex Rivera. In attendance were Supervisor Jose Sandoval and Maria Echaveste, former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton.[5]


Civil rights leaders say Richard Chavez laid foundations in communities and in the civil rights movement that will prove to be stronger and longer lasting than the concrete and timber that compose the buildings he helped build. Richard dedicated his life to fulfilling the dream envisioned by him, his brother and his family, in which farm workers, Latinos and all Americans would one day achieve full access to justice.

"Richard Chavez was a gentle and unsung hero of the farm worker and broader civil rights movements," said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican and Legal Defense Educational Fund, in a statement. "His quiet and reassuring presence will be greatly missed."

"Richard was one of those little-known giants in our organization," said current United Farmworkers president Arturo Rodriguez. "Those of us who have been a part of the organization know and understand the effectiveness of his leadership."

President Barack Obama also paid tribute to the many contributions made by Richard Chavez.

"Richard fought for basic labor rights but also worked to improve the quality of life for countless farmworkers," said Obama in a statement. "And beyond his work, Richard was a family man."

Obama added, "Richard understood that the struggle for a more perfect union and a better life for all America's workers didn't end with any particular victory or defeat, but instead required a commitment to getting up every single day to keep at it."