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environmental justiceThe Story of a Hero

People everywhere are working to improve the environment in their communities. In California, an environmental justice hero is Cesar Chavez. Chavez was a Mexican American farm worker who lived in California and moved from farm to farm to harvest seasonal fruits and vegetables. Chavez and the rest of the farm workers were living in very poor housing conditions, working many hours for little pay, and being exposed to harmful pesticides, which are chemicals used to kill insects on crops.

Cesar Chavez knew that the combination of poor housing, low pay and contact with poisonous chemicals was very unfair to farm workers, so he organized the farm workers to ask for better working conditions. This took many years, but with the support of people all over the United States, Cesar Chavez and the farm workers were successful. They convinced farm owners and governments to change farm worker conditions and make them better, although farm workers today still have to speak up when they think their working conditions are unfair or unhealthy.

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