Senator Boxer: Celebrating the Legacy of Cesar Chavez
Friday, March 26, 2010
On March 31, we will celebrate the 83rd birthday of a great American, the late labor leader Cesar E. Chavez. Millions of Americans are still inspired by his immortal motto: “Sí, se puede – Yes, we can.” Cesar’s positive attitude, indomitable spirit, and tireless efforts helped California farm workers win union representation and fair labor contracts after years of struggle.
Born on March 31, 1927, Cesar Chavez began his life on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona. When his family lost the farm during the Great Depression and moved to California, Cesar at age 10 became a migrant farm worker, laboring in fields and vineyards. In 1946 he joined the U.S. Navy and served in the western Pacific in the aftermath of World War II.
Cesar Chavez’s early experiences gave him the determination to create an organization to ensure protections for farm workers. This organization developed into the United Farm Workers of America, the largest farm workers union in U.S. history. As union president, Chavez worked to promote fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and decent working conditions. Thanks to his leadership, while the fight for fairness and justice continues, thousands of farm workers today are able to live their lives with respect, dignity, and a decent wage.
Cesar died in 1993 and was the second Mexican-American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award. Last year, Congress passed my bill to rename a San Diego post office in his honor.
The State of California has established an official state holiday to honor Cesar Chavez and to promote community service in his memory. For a schedule of Chavez Day events, see the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation web page or the United Farm Workers web page.
As we celebrate Cesar Chavez’s birthday, let us always remember his call for unity, equality, and justice for all Americans. Sí, se puede.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer