Place

Tomasa Zapata Co-op Service Station

A white brick building with a red tile roof.
The Tomasa Zapata Co-op Service Station

NPS photo

Quick Facts

Audio Description, Cellular Signal, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Wheelchair Accessible

Reliable transportation is a critical need for migrant farmworkers, and without it, they cannot reach the jobs that are their livelihood. During the movement, Cesar and Richard Chavez built this service station after buying this property in Delano, known as Forty Acres. The first permanent structure built on Forty Acres, the service station included gas pumps, an automotive repair shop, and a steel-framed multipurpose hall. The Chavez brothers' vision reflected their belief in self-empowerment, the defining theme of the farm worker movement.

Cesar's First Fast

Cesar's first public fast took place in 1968 inside a small room in the service station. His goal was to rededicate the farmworkers movement to nonviolence. After 25 days without food, he lost 35 pounds. His "Fast for Nonviolence" brought national media attention to the farm labor movement and triggered an improvement of conditions for Mexican-Americans and other minorities in the United States. During the fast, supporters came each day to celebrate mass. The fast ended in Delano during a mass where he broke bread with Senator Robert F. Kennedy, with thousands of supporters in attendance.

Last updated: January 19, 2021