Hispanic Heritage Month: Responding to the poor and the helpless

Cesar Chavez. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

By Jennifer Gonzalez

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Bread for the World will celebrate the resilience, creativity, and spirit of several Hispanic men and women over the next few weeks.

A union leader, labor organizer, and civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez was without a doubt one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States. He devoted his life to improving the treatment, pay, and working conditions of farm workers.

Chavez knew the plight of the farm worker all too well. He and his family toiled in the fields as migrant farm workers. As a labor leader, Chavez led marches, called for boycotts, and went on several hunger strikes.

Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta. The organization was later called the United Farm Workers union.

Today, Hispanics in this country are flourishing in the arts, medicine, government, and academia. Despite the successes, many still face obstacles. In 2014, the Hispanic poverty rate was 23.6 percent compared to the overall national poverty rate of 14.8 percent.

Almost 32 percent of Hispanic children in this country lived in poverty in 2014. That figure is much higher than the national rate of 21 percent.

There is still much more work to done around the issues of immigration, jobs, and food security for Hispanics.

Jennifer Gonzalez is the associate online editor at Bread for the World.

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