¡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 5 (Part 8)

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.

On August 12, 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) field office in Sacramento sent a message to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., describing a planned protest staged at Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento. The purpose of the demonstration was to protest the U.S. Department of Defense's purchase of grapes for shipment to Vietnam; it was also part of the United Farm Workers' (UFW) national campaign to bring increased public attention to the farm workers' cause and to garner additional support for the Delano grape strike.

The FBI memo reported that the demonstration was led by a student from the University of California, Berkeley, who was hired by the UFW to help coordinate the grape boycott in Sacramento. The protest, which was carried out at the gates of the military base, was orderly and nonviolent.

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