Chavez, a Mexican American from Arizona, dropped out of the seventh grade in 1942 to start picking crops so that his mother wouldn’t have to. In the 1950s, in a time when migrant farm workers struggled to survive on meagre wages and in unsafe working conditions, he began to organize.

Over the next three decades, he co-founded a national union, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA); organized Mexican Americans to register and vote, and led a five-year nonviolent strike by California grape pickers that sparked a national movement. Now, in a time when income inequality in the U.S. is larger than it has ever been; when we’re once again seeing a swell of hatred toward outsiders; what can we learn from these moments in history?

In California, which has the 6th largest economy in the world, and yet has the nation’s highest poverty rate, how can our past inspire us to move forward?

But it’s not just established organizations and leaders that are taking up the fight. It’s also the thousands upon thousands of young people, full of hope, who marched on Washington and in cities across the world this January.

What’s next? I don’t have the answer. But I know one thing: it’s up to us.

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