Mexican-American hero is remembered by Valley College.
By: Stephanie Mendoza and Jorge Belon, Staff Writer and News Editor
On August 18, 2000, former Governor Gray Davis signed a California law stating that in 2001 the officially state holiday for Cesar Chavez would be on his birthday March 31.
Cesar Chavez day is not only celebrated in California, but in Texas and Colorado as well. It is an optional holiday in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico. An optional holiday means that some stores and banks might be closed.
“I do think that Cesar Chavez day is enough,” said MECHA club member Susana Gonzalez. “Because he did do a lot of for the Latino community and I think he does deserve to have a day to be recognized for his accomplishments and achievements.”
Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona in a Mexican-American family who owned a farm. During the Great Depression, his parents were forced to give up the family farm, and, at the age of 10, he was forced to become a farm worker.
He worked in the fields with his parents in Arizona and California and dropped out of grammar school at the age of 15 to work full-time. Two years later, in 1944, the Arizona native joined the United States Navy at 17; he saw action in the Pacific Theater in World War II.
Chavez’s life after WWII was aimed to bring change for all of the farm workers in the United States, but he wanted the Mexican community to get more involved.
He encouraged Latin people to be more active in the communities and to vote more. He wanted to show that changes could be made without the need of violence.
After years of boycotting and participating in several hunger strikes, he eventually achieved his goal and created unions for farm workers.
He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with Dolores Huerta. It became the United Farm Workers and Chavez would remained as the president of UFW until his death in 1993.
Chavez also supported the Filipino-American farm workers when they went on the Delano Grape strike in 1965.
“I have heard of Cesar Chavez,” said bio chemistry major Brenda Lazcano. “He gained rights for people that worked in the fields. I think he should definitely be more of an active part of history classes, because he is significant to the Latino Community, but he could become significant to those who are not Latin.”
The Arizona native died in his beloved state on April 23, 1993; he was 66 years old. Chavez now rests at Keene, California in the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.
“I absolutely think that Cesar Chavez should be taught more in classes,” said Gonzalez, “because he represents a whole nation of the Latino population and there is a large population of us in this country.”