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In the United States, March 31 marks an important memorable date, Cesar Chavez Day. It is traditionally celebrated in many states, and in California, since 2000, it has the status of an official holiday and non-working day. Obviously, there must be a reason behind such high prominence. In this regard, Cesar Estrada Chavez is remembered as a prominent human rights activist and campaigner for the social rights of workers and migrants who managed to establish a long legacy for those in search of a better life in the United States.
Life and Social Work
Cesar Estrada Chavez was an American Labor Party activist, organizer, businessman, and Hispanic. With Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) to become the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). Ideologically, his worldview combined Leftist politics with Roman Catholic social teachings (Bruns 34). Those, however, are not all remarkable achievements of Chavez. Essentially, he worked to help others throughout his adult life.
A well-known American human rights activist, a fighter for the social rights of workers and migrants, a national hero of the United States of America, a supporter of veganism Cesar Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, in Arizona. He began his human rights work in 1952 with a civil rights group for Hispanics. In 1962, he helped form the National Farm Workers Association. Chavez took an active part in organizing strikes and hunger strikes, the task of which was to increase wages and improve working conditions for workers (Bruns 2; 35-36). Since the beginning of his career, Chavez was proactive about human rights, making himself prominent even then.
Chavez was particularly active in California, where the number of Hispanic people has always been high. Many schools, community centers, and parks in the US are named after Cesar Chavez. For example, in San Francisco, there is an elementary school named after Cesar Chavez. There is also a portrait of Cesar Chavez at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, as well as a statue of him at the University of Texas at Austin. Cesar Chavez is inducted into the California Hall of Fame and is mentioned in songs by famous musicians. He was also honored with a commemorative postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 2003 (“U.S. Stamp Gallery >> Cesar E. Chavez”). Undoubtedly, Cesar Chavez has become a sort of local hero for many Californians, and there are many reasons behind that.
Various contemporary and modern authors spoke very kindly and even proudly of Chavez. Roger Bruns noted that the Chavez movement was "part of the passion for change [in the US] of the late 1960s," along with the civil rights movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. Historian Ronald A. Wells has described Chavez as "one of the most important Christians of our time, while theologian Hosffman Ospino has called him "one of the most influential social leaders in U.S. history" (Bruns 112). Many Latin Americans have been inspired by his movement. He has been described as a folk saint. A 1983 Los Angeles Times poll found that Chávez was the Hispanic most admired by Latinos in California (Reyes). Chavez was an important social activist and defender of human rights in California, he also made strong efforts to keep the United States a peaceful and comfortable place to live for everybody.
In 2004, the National Chavez Center was opened at UFW's national headquarters in Keene by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation. It currently consists of a visitor center, a memorial garden, and his burial site. When fully completed, the 187-acre site will include a museum and conference center to explore and share Chavez's work. On September 14, 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior listed Senora Reina de La Paz's 187 acres on the National Register of Historic Places. On October 8, 2012, President Barack Obama designated the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument as part of the National Park System. California State University San Marcos Chavez behind includes a statue of Chavez. In 2007, the University of Texas at Austin unveiled its own statue of Cesar Chavez. The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 authorized the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study on sites significant to the life of Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement in the Western United States (“Cesar E. Chavez”). The study showed the relevance and suitability of sites significant to Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement, as well as the fear and appropriateness of a National Park Service role in managing any of these sites.
Cesar Chavez is a national hero of the United States and a symbol of the struggle for the social and civil rights of Mexican migrant agricultural workers. Cesar Chavez Day was the first holiday in the history of the United States that was established in honor of an American human rights activist of Mexican origin. In parallel with his human rights activities, he studied philosophy, economics, and jurisprudence in order to effectively fight for the rights of workers. Even Chavez died "on the barricades": death overtook him during the boycott for the ban on the use of harmful pesticides in the cultivation of grapes.
"César E. Chávez". National Parks Conservation Association, 2022, https://www.npca.org/parks/cesar-e-chavez-national-monument.
"U.S. Stamp Gallery >> Cesar E. Chavez". U.S. Stamp Gallery, 2022, http://usstampgallery.com/view.php?id=5a229d43a6d3f780cf00a6d6065aebbf8bda2125.
Bruns, Roger A. Cesar Chavez. Greenwood Press, 2005.
Reyes, David. "Latino Heroes: The Few and Far Between". Los Angeles Times, 1983, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-26/latino-heroes-the-few-and-far-between.
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