The Portraits

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César Chávez

Manuel Acosta, 9 May 1921 - 25 Oct 1989
César Estrada Chávez, 31 Mar 1927 - 23 Apr 1993
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 61 x 50.8 x 2.5cm (24 x 20 x 1")
Frame: 76.2 x 66 x 5.7cm (30 x 26 x 2 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Manuel Acosta
Object number
César Estrada Chávez: American\Hispanic American\Mexican American
Exhibition Label
Encouraged by victories of the black civil rights movement, labor organizer César Chávez began in the early 1960s to protest the unfair treatment of farm workers in California and the Southwest, the majority of whom were Mexican or Mexican American. In 1963 he and Dolores Huerta founded the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), the first effective national organization to represent agricultural workers and press for political reform. The UFW started a boycott of California grapes in 1965 as part of a movement to improve working conditions for field laborers. Four years later, Time magazine published this portrait as its cover image. The effects of the farm workers' strike, known as la causa (the cause), had spread, resulting in a national boycott of grapes by many sympathetic Americans. An Aztec eagle, the symbol of the UFW, is emblazoned on Chávez's shirt.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection