La Causa Para La Raza: The Educative Processes and Development of Knowledge in the United Farm Workers from 1962 to 1970

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Virginia Tech

This historical study examined the educative processes and development of knowledge in the social movement of the United Farm Workers from 1962 to 1970. Materials for this study were found in the archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs at the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University and from secondary sources. A conceptual framework for this study was built upon the theories and positions of those from adult education, educational history, and sociology.

This study found that adult learning outside of formal, institutional education can be empowering and life changing as well as providing valuable skills. The learning that occurred in Cesar Chavez's adult life strongly influenced him to leave the migrant stream and establish a community union and social movement. Likewise, the educative processes within the United Farm Workers (UFW) were empowering and prompted farm workers collectively to takes risks to challenge the status quo in their quest for social change. In addition to empowerment, this study determined that the UFW provided numerous educational opportunities for its members to enhance their work, writing, speaking, leadership, and organizational skills.

This study determined that Chavez's role in the UFW was inherently educative and that the UFW generated knowledge to society that affected social change. As the movement intellectual, Chavez defined the identity and interests of the social movement to society. Chavez's message was clear. La Causa Para La Raza sought dignity and economic and social justice for the farm workers. The purpose of la causa was for farm workers to gain greater control over their lives and to become more active participants in a democratic society. In 1970, for the first time in the history of farm labor, the UFW succeeded in gaining union contracts from twenty-six major growers in California. Social and economic justice had been won.

Conclusions drawn from the study indicate that as a social movement during the period between 1962 and 1970 the UFW offered unique and diverse educational opportunities and experiences for Mexican American farm workers that would not have been possible in institutional education. The UFW demonstrated the diversity and power of educative processes in a social movement for those alienated from formal education. In the tradition of Dewey, Lindeman, and Freire, the UFW represented education for social change.

Adult Education, UFW, Chavez, Social Movements