Sunday, July 21, 2024

Documentary Chronicles Life of Civil Rights Legend

Nearly two decades after his death, work is underway to ensure that current and feature generations know the story of an iconic figure in the civil rights movement, Mexican American labor organizer Cesar Chavez.

Cesar’s Last Fast is a documentary in production that draws its name from the 1988 “Fast for Life” where for 36 days, in an act he described as “penance for not doing enough,” Chavez took only water to draw attention to the use of dangerous pesticides in the agricultural fields of the San Joaquin Valley.

His decision to undertake the effort came on the hills of a report that linked the high rates of birth defects in farmworkers’ children to the toxic chemicals their mothers were exposed to, some of which were being sprayed directly as the workers labored in the fields.

Using never before seen footage, the film covers the struggle of the early days of the movement up until the current day where UFW members still struggle to organize what is a primarily immigrant labor sector.  It includes the Catholic mass where Cesar broke his fast, an event that drew thousands of supporters including a number of Hollywood notables, national community and political leaders, and the widow and children of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

Richard Ray Perez of Los Angeles is the film’s director and producer.  He has produced and directed a number of high profile documentaries touching on a range of themes from the 2000 Presidential election to environmental issues and the plight of returning Iraq War veterans. The son of a migrant farm worker, Perez is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University.

A screening of the work in-progress and fundraiser for “Cesar’s Last Fast” will be held in Washington, DC on Wednesday, November 17th at the offices of NCLR.  For more information, visit the website:


  1. Wow – this sounds amazing! So important that the legacy of Cesar Chavez is remembered.