who was cesar chavez hiplatina
Photo: Mar Juia/Instagram/@terryblas
Culture News and Entertainment

New Graphic Novel About César Chávez March Released

Iconic Mexican American civil rights activist, César Chávez, is the subject of a new graphic novel for children spotlighting his work in support of migrant farm workers. Written by award-winning Chicano comic book author, Terry Blas, and illustrated by acclaimed cartoonist Mar Julia, Who Was The Voice of the People?: Cesar Chavez, is part of the “A Who HQ” book series. It tells the story of the historic 340-mile protest march Chávez led from Delano, California to Sacramento, California in 1966 alongside Dolores Huerta during the Delano Grape Strike fighting against the exploitation of farm workers. Blas was presented with the project and asked to select a specific period in César Chávez’s life to focus the story on and chose this moment because of its significance.

“Latinos in the United States number close to 50 million and 30 million of those are Mexican. We are here, we are strong and if I can do something to help represent our people in a more positive way, then that’s what I’m going to do and I think that’s what Cesar Chavez did,” Blas told HipLatina. “He wanted to send the message that if Latinos are treated unfairly in their jobs, it sends the message that we can be treated unfairly in every other aspect of our lives,” he said.

The 25-day march  was organized Chávez and farm workers organizations, with the intention of peacefully protesting against unfair treatment of farm workers. The march led to the formation of the United Farm Workers union after the participating organizations the National Farmworkers Association and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee united.

“Cesar Chavez’s story is important to me because it tells me that if you want something done, quite often, you have to do it yourself, and the idea that having that attitude can inspire others to action,” Blas told us, revealing that this is the first time he’s written about a real person.

The book explains the history of the march and offers up some background on the famous labor leader and civil rights activist, who dedicated nearly his entire life to a causa including negotiating contracts with their employers. The book is written in an engaging and appropriate way for young readers to digest.

“I think a younger generation, which the book is aimed at, often feels like the world around them and what’s happening in it is out of their control,” he explained. “I think Cesar Chavez felt like that sometimes too. But he didn’t sit around with a defeated attitude saying: ‘Well what am I supposed to do?’ I love his ‘take charge’ spirit.”
He adds that the book tries to debunk negative stereotypes biases in his books, which also include the titles Hotel Dare and Lifetime Passes as well as the Marvel book, Reptil. Being of Mexican descent meant this project was also a personal point of pride for him and a means to showcase our community in a positive light. “I live in a country where quite often, Latinos are not spoken of in a positive light and are portrayed negatively or stereotypically.”

Who Was The Voice of the People?: Cesar Chavez, is intended for readers between the ages of 8 and 12 or between grades 3 and 7, and is available both in print and as an e-book.