As a young kid Cesar's parents, Librador and Juana Chavez owned a farm and a store. When Cesar was ten, during The Great Depression, the family lost both the farm and store. To provide for the family they became migrant farm workers. Chavez helped the family by working part-time in the fields of Arizona with them. Once Cesar graduated the eighth grade he worked full-time in the fields since his father got injured. During World War 2 Cesar served in the US Navy.