Sadly there is no Nia Class today, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. The city of San Jose is closed so the San Jose Park and Recreation Community Centers are closed. It is a State Holiday. It is Cesar Chavez Day. It is a Holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas. March 31 is Cesar Chavez’s birthday. He was born in Yuma, Arizona in 1927. He was 66 years old when he died in his apartment in a small village near his place of birth, San Luis, Arizona in 1993. It was in August 2000 that the bill for a holiday to be on his birthday was signed into law, by Governor Gray Davis. Cesar Chavez Day was to be a holiday starting in 2001.
Before becoming the infamous voice for farm workers and their families, he was in the U.S. Navy in World War II. He is famous for the formation of the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, in 1966. This committee was created by bringing two groups together, the National Farm Workers Association (which he helped form) and the Filipinos of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee. Cesar Chavez was responsible for a huge strike of grape farm workers and a multi-year boycott on grapes. This resulted in union contracts being accepted by grape growers. He was a civil rights activist.
He worked for the rights of American Farm workers. His methods, thought to be aggressive by some, emphasized non-violence. He protested the use of toxic pesticides on grapes, for higher wages and safe working conditions for farm workers, and to promote the principle of nonviolence in regards to the strikes. Several of his protests were done by fasting. One of his protest – a fast – lasted 25 days. He fought for human rights.
According to the website Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday:
“In 1966 Cesar Chavez led a 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento calling on state government to pass laws which would permit farm workers to organize into a union and allow collective bargaining agreements.”
And according to Wiki, while he held office in the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, he was “committed to restricting immigration”. With workers coming to the United States from Mexico it undermined all of his efforts to better conditions for the American Farm Worker.
President Clinton presented Cesar Chavez’s widow, Helen Chavez with the Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony on August 8, 1994.
President Barack Obama’s famous campaign slogan of “Yes, one can,” might sound familiar to some as it was originally the slogan for the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee that Cesar Chavez co-founded. “Sí, se puede.”
I am sad on this day of celebrating the man who fought for better wages and conditions for workers, I have to miss a day of work. But I can still dance. And perhaps raise a toast of wine to Mr. Chavez (in keeping with the grape theme).
His work benefited American Farm Workers not just those in California, Texas, and Colorado.
Do you have any special plans for Cesar Chavez Day?
Many things bear his name in California:
Plaza de César Chávez (San Jose)
Cesar E. Chavez Plaza (Sacramento)
César E. Chávez Waterfront Park (San Diego)
César E. Chávez Park (Delano)
César Chávez Park (Berkeley)
César E. Chávez Park (Modesto and Colton)
César Chávez Community Center (Riverside) (2060 University Ave, also known as the César Chávez Auditorium)
Cesar E Chavez Park (LongBeach)
Cesar E. Chavez National Monument (Keene)
Avenida Cesar Chavez (Los Angeles) (formerly Brooklyn Avenue, Macy Street and part of Sunset Boulevard)
Calle César Chávez (Santa Barbara) (formerly South Salsipuedes Street)
César Chávez Drive (Oxnard) (newer street planned to commemorate César Chávez)
César E. Chávez Parkway (San Diego) (formerly Crosby Street)
César Chávez Street (Brawley) (formerly North 10th Street)
César Chávez Street (San Francisco) (formerly Army Street)
Maywood César Chávez Library (Maywood)
César E. Chávez Branch Library (Oakland)
Cesár Chávez Public Library (Salinas)
César Chávez Central Library (Stockton)
Cesar Chavez Library (Perris and San Jose)
Chávez High School (Delano and Santa Ana)
César Chávez Learning Academies (San Fernando)
Cesar Chavez High School (Stockton)
César E. Chávez School for Social Change (Santa Cruz)
César Chávez Middle School (San Bernardino)
César Chávez Middle School (Hayward)
Cesar Chavez Elementary School (Calexico, Coachella, Corona, Davis, Greenfield, Oxnard, Salinas, San Francisco, and San Jose)
César E. Chávez Elementary School (Norwalk)
César Chávez Elementary School (Oxnard) (formerly Juanita Elementary School)
Cesar E. Chavez Academy (East Palo Alto and Madera)
Cesar Chavez Elementary School (San Diego)
Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School (Bell Gardens)
César Estrada Chávez Dual Language Immersion School (Santa Barbara)
Cesar Chavez Continuation High School (Compton
Cesar E. Chavez Middle School (Planada)
César Chávez Student Center, University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley)
César E. Chávez Student Services Center, Southwestern College (Chula Vista)
César Chávez Campus of the Fresno Adult School (Fresno)
UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana & Chicano Studies (Los Angeles)
César E. Chávez Campus of San Diego Continuing Education (San Diego)
César Chávez Student Center, San Francisco State University (San Francisco)
César Chávez Building (A building), Santa Ana College (Santa Ana)