Late activist Cesar Chavez is remembered during March for Justice :Aztec dancers, student drummers, mothers with strollers and seniors with canes were among the hundreds who joined in the northeast San Fernando Valley Sunday to honor the memory of labor leader Cesar Chavez.Despite gray skies and light morning showers, community members of all ages gathered at Brand Park in Mission Hills for the 18th annual March for Justice.
Holding red flags emblazoned with the black eagle icon made famous by the United Farmworker’s Union launched by Cesar Chavez, marchers headed toward Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima as clouds made way for sunshine. Their “Si se puede” chants could be heard from afar.
Cesar Chavez, who died at the age of 66 in 1993, fought to bring awareness to the plight of farmworkers by organizing marches and hunger strikes.Dozens of community activists, teachers, and elected officials participated in the event that has become a tradition for this community, and they stressed the need to remember Cesar Chavez’s legacy of empowerment and equity for all.
“When you march today, you not only march to honor the memory of Cesar Chavez, but to honor everything he stood for,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the San Fernando Valley. Anthony Chavez, Cesar’s 25-year-old grandson, said in the current political climate in which legislators in several states have proposed legislation to reduce collective bargaining rights for unions, it is essential to remember what his grandfather stood for.
“He wanted everyone to know how difficult working conditions were for farmworkers, and workers of other trades,” Cesar Chavez said.”That is especially significant today, with the current onslaught on workers’ rights we’re seeing.”
Cesar Chavez, Founder of the UFW, Dies at 66 : Labor: A spiritual and political leader, he galvanized support for the plight of poor farmhands.
Cesar Chavez, who organized the United Farm Workers union, staged a massive grape boycott in the late 1960s to dramatize the plight of America’s poor farmhands, and later became a Gandhi-like leader to urban Mexican-Americans, was found dead Friday in San Luis, Ariz., police said. He was 66.Authorities in San Luis, a small farming town on the Mexican border about 25 miles south of Cesar Chavez’s native Yuma, said the legendary farm workers’ leader apparently died in his sleep at the home of a family friend.
“He was our Gandhi,” said Democratic state Sen. Art Torres, a prominent Chicano politician from Los Angeles’ Eastside, upon hearing news of Cesar Chavez’s death. “He was our Dr. Martin Luther King.
“It’s hard to find people like him who epitomized the spiritual and political goals of a people.”President Clinton said in Washington, “The labor movement and all Americans have lost a great leader with the death of Cesar Chavez. An inspiring fighter for the cause to which he dedicated his life, Cesar Chavez was an authentic hero to millions of people throughout the world.”
Indeed, to many, America’s quest for equality for its ethnic and racial minorities had largely been framed in terms of black and white. Mexican-Americans, and Latinos in general, were largely ignored by politicians except at election time.That changed when Cesar Chavez, the son of migrant farm workers, became the head of the UFW in 1965.
A dedicated advocate of nonviolence, Cesar Chavez galvanized public support on behalf of farm workers, many of them illegal immigrants who averaged as little as $1,350 a year in the farm industry that at the time grossed $4 billion annually. Workers lived in substandard housing.
The early struggles in the San Joaquin Valley were marked by bitter and sometimes brutal incidents involving picketing farm workers who screamed ” Huelga! ” — “Strike!”–and growers who vowed never to give in to Cesar Chavez and his followers.
Cesar Chavez’s greatest achievement was the 1968 boycott of California grapes. Beginning in the spring, more than 200 union supporters, many of them earning $5 a week for their help, fanned out across the United States and Canada to urge consumers not to buy grapes.
In addition to the boycotts he mounted, Cesar Chavez also used a series of fasts to rally support, including a 36-day, water-only fast in 1988 that severely affected his health.
At its peak in the 1970s, the UFW said that about 70,000 workers in California’s fields were covered by its collective bargaining agreements.
In focusing attention on migrant workers, Cesar Chavez also helped millions of urban Mexican-Americans who were chafing for more educational opportunities, better housing and more political power.
\o7 El Movimiento\f7 , the Chicano civil rights campaign of the late 1960s, was characterized in many barrios such as East Los Angeles by marches opposing the Vietnam War and supporting the UFW.
By the 1980s, however, the union lost the earlier gains and Cesar Chavez found less and less public enthusiasm and support for boycotts. Union membership dipped to below 10,000. Many of the detractors in recent years called him an irrelevant force in today’s labor and political situations.
Nevertheless, he was remembered Friday as a giant in the civil rights movement of the United States.
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said that Cesar Chavez “was one of the great pioneers for civil rights and human rights of our century.”
“His tireless commitment to improve the plight of farm workers profoundly touched the conscience of America and inspired millions of others to work for justice in their own communities,” Kennedy said in a statement released by his Washington office.
Lane Kirkland, president of the AFL-CIO, said Cesar Chavez was instrumental in organized labor’s efforts to improve the lot of the rank and file.
Honoring Service: Cesar Chavez Day and How You Can Get Involved :Cesar Cesar Chavez said: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
On Thursday, the California State Assembly officially recognized Cesar Chavez Day as March 31—Saturday—and called on all Californians to observe it as a day of service.
Authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) and more than 60 other leaders, ACR 73 shines light on the contributions that farm worker and activist Cesar Chavez made to California.
“To many Californians, the farmworkers’ struggle is an issue from the past,” said Alejo, whose district includes Gilroy and Watsonville, in a statement about the resolution. “But the challenges of farmworkers did not disappear with the passing of Cesar Chavez. In Cesar’s memory, I call on all Californians to celebrate this day as a day of public service.”
Cesar Chavez, who passed away at the age of 66 in 1993, was a pacifist and civil rights activist who received national attention in his fight for migrant and farm workers’ rights.Born in 1927 in Yuma, Arizona, Cesar Chavez grew up helping on his family’s farm. He dealt with prejudice at a young age, as his teachers strictly forbid him from speaking any Spanish—his native language—at school.
He served in the military for two years, before moving to San Jose, where he married his high-school sweetheart. He worked as a farm laborer until 1952, when he became an organizer for the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group.
He left to found his own organization, the National Farm Workers’ Association (later called United Farm Workers), with Dolores Huerta. The organization successfully and non-violently protested for, and won, higher wages for grape and lettuce growers, gaining national attention. Throughout his life, he continued to tiredlessly and nonviolently fight for and acheive better conditions for workers.
Although the offiical holiday is Saturday, Cesar Chavez Day will be observd today (Friday) in many areas.
How You Can Get Involved
In the spirit of Cesar Chavez, the following are celebrations and volunteer opportunities occurring Friday and Saturday:
* From 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, volunteer at TerraGnoma’s community garden in Santa Cruz, helping with seed propagation and maintaining the site. As a bonus, if you arrive by 12:30 p.m., you’ll be treated to a community potluck, with seasonal food and drink from the garden.
* Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose will host their first ever Cesar Chavez Day Celebration. The day kicks off by helping plant tomatoes, eggplants, and other summer crops. Then enjoy a potluck lunch, a discussion by “A Farmworkers’ Journey author Dr. Ann Lopez, and children’s games and activities.
* Cesar Chavez was a vegan, and strong advocate of animal rights. In honor of his beliefs, attend a dog adoption showcase in Mountain View Saturday at 1 p.m., and volunteer to be a foster parent.
* Attend one of the many local farmers markets in the area, supporting local farmers from the Bay Area and the Central Valley. A short drive from Campbell, the Santa Teresa Farmers’ Market is taking place this Saturday at Kaiser Permanente San Jose.
* If you’re up for making the trek, Los Banos will host its Sixth Annual César Chávez Day march and rally at noon on March 31. Featuring speeches and performances bands from Gilroy and Watsonville, the march will snake through town, paying homage to Cesar Chavez.
César Estrada Chávez (locally: [ˈsesaɾ esˈtɾaða ˈtʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
A Mexican American, Chávez became the best known Latino civil rights activist, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to enroll Hispanic members. Cesar Chavez public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, Cesar Chavez tactics had forced growers to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. However, by the mid-1980s membership in the UFW had dwindled to around 15,000.
After his death Cesar Chavez became a major historical icon for the Latino community, and for liberals generally, symbolizing militant[weasel words] support for workers and for Hispanic power based on grass roots organizing and his slogan “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, it is possible” or, roughly, “Yes, it can be done”). Cesar Chavez supporters say his work led to numerous improvements for union laborers. Cesar Chavez birthday, March 31, has become César Chávez Day, a state holiday in three US states. Many parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets have been named in his honor in cities across the United States.