¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 1 (Part 6)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 1 (Part 6)
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The primary source document described below, which can be viewed by clicking the thumbnail at right, is part of a 1,434-page file on César Chávez and the farmworker movement compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 1965 and 1973. The FBI's surveillance of Chávez, which paralleled larger efforts to prove that protest groups of the civil rights era had been infiltrated by subversive influences, was unable to uncover any evidence of communism or corruption in the activities of Chávez and his followers.

The FBI's dossier on Chávez was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which contains provisions that allowed the FBI to withhold portions of the documents from public view. Indeed, many parts—and in some cases, entire pages—have been excised from the files. Nevertheless, the collection provides a compelling window into the efforts of the farmworker movement, as well as the values and methods of the FBI itself.

Included in this series of communiqués is a letterhead memorandum from the FBI's San Francisco field office, dated November 8, 1965, which attempts to detail the connection between the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) and Communist Party USA. Part of the FBI's continuing investigation of communist infiltration of the farmworker movement, the information gathered here stemmed from the October 19 arrest of three picketers involved in the Delano grape strike.

While most of the first page of the November 8 memo was redacted, the following pages provide information about the Bay Area Council of Sobell Committees, an organization formed to secure the release of Morton Sobell, a U.S. citizen who was imprisoned after being found guilty of spying for the Soviet Union. Subsequent pages in the document profile the Independent Socialists League (ISL), formerly known as the Workers Party, which was dissolved in 1958; the information is largely gleaned from the organization's defunct Labor Action publication.

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