Rep. Baca Leads Effort to Honor Cesar Chavez
Rep. Joe Baca (D-California) introduced a resolution that calls upon Congress and the President to establish a national holiday in honor of Cesar Chavez, the civil rights advocate and labor organizer.
Rep. Baca said, "As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, let us also remember the legacy of Cesar Chavez. Dr. King and Cesar Chavez are often spoken of as two of the greatest civil rights leaders in American history. Their devotion to the advancement of all Americans has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of our great nation. While we rightly acknowledge the achievements and contributions of Dr. King by celebrating Martin Luther King Day, we should give recognition also to Cesar Chavez, an American hero and role model."
Cesar Chavez Day is celebrated as a holiday in nine states (AZ, CA, CO, IL, MI, NM, TX, UT and WI). On this day, (March 31), dozens of cities throughout the nation provide students, teachers, businesses and community members with the unique opportunity to learn about Cesar Chavez and advance his values and principles. Thousands of people across the country observe this day by participating in volunteer, educational and cultural activities within their communities.
Chavez was the founder of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), the first successful farm workers union in American history. For more than three decades, he led the UFW, achieving dignity, respect, fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and humane living conditions, as well as countless other rights and protections for hundreds of thousands of farm workers, especially migrant workers who engage in demanding labor.
Rep. Baca said, "The creation of a national holiday will not only honor a great man but also educate Americans about Cesar Chavez and help ensure his legacy continues to inspire others to continue his fight for the fair and just treatment of workers."
Cesar Chavez was a humble leader who fought for social change by employing the principles of non-violence practiced by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. including peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, strikes, and pilgrimages.
His leadership on behalf of workers helped achieve the first industry-wide labor contracts in the history of American agriculture and brought about the passage of the groundbreaking 1975 California Agriculture Labor Relations Act to protect farm workers. This remains the only law in the nation that protects farm workers' rights to unionize.
He is especially admired within the Latino community, and a national holiday in his honor would make him the first Hispanic American to be recognized in this way.