The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott
On September 8, 1965, Filipino American grape workers, members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, walked out on strike against Delano-area table and wine grape growers protesting years of poor pay and conditions. The Filipinos asked César Chávez, who led a mostly Latino farm workers union, the National Farm Workers Association, to join their strike.
César and the leaders of the NFWA believed it would be years before their fledgling union was ready for strike. But he also knew how growers historically pitted one race against another to break field walkouts. César’s union voted to join the Filipino workers’ walkouts on Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1965. From the beginning this would be a different kind of strike.
César inspired the Latino and Filipino strikers work together, sharing the same picket lines, strike kitchens and union hall.
He asked strikers take a solemn vow to remain nonviolent.
The strike drew unprecedented support from outside the Central Valley, from other unions, church activists, students, Latinos and other minorities, and civil rights groups
César led a 300-mile march, or peregrinacion, from Delano to Sacramento. It placed the farm workers’ plight squarely before the conscience of the American people.
The strikers turned to boycotts, including table grapes, which eventually spread across North America.
César’s Office and Library
César’s office remains as it was when he was active at La Paz from 1970 to 1988. The administrative building that housed the office had deteriorated to such a degree that it could not be saved. Before the building was demolished, experts from the Smithsonian Institution cataloged each object and its precise location.
The walls were left in place when the building was razed. Upon completion of the new building each object was returned to its previous spot and a window installed to allow visitors to view the office and its contents.