Last Update: Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Keeping Cesar's Legacy Alive|
|Written by Alex Garcia|
|Thursday, 21 March 2013 05:14|
Twenty years after his death, it's more important than ever to keep Cesar Chavez' legacy alive, says Alex Reza of the Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Committee, which holds its annual Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice this Saturday, March 23, in Mission Hills.
"Right now we're going through some very challenging times for working people in general. Over the past 20 years, we have seen working people's wages plateau and corporate wages go up," Reza said. "Working people have lost ground."
At the same time, Reza noted, "all the major services that all of us need - transportation, health care, and education – are more expensive than ever and all the support systems for the poor are getting more and more difficult to access."
"Cesar's legacy is that working people are the heart and key to a healthy economy, provided they get their fair share. More than ever, we need to have what he fought for firmly in mind, and use it to deal with today's crisis," Reza said.
The annual march through the streets of Mission Hills and Pacoima is a 20-year tradition in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
The march will begin at 11 a.m. at Brand Park, 15174 San Fernando Mission Blvd., in Mission Hills. It will head east on Brand Boulevard, turning south on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, and arrive at Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima. A cultural arts festival will follow.
Until a few years ago, the march would end in the City of San Fernando, where a memorial in honor of Chavez was built in 2007. However, money problems and other issues led to the march now being routed towards Pacoima.
Chavez was born on March 31, 1927 in Yuma, Arizona to a farm worker family. Chavez himself worked in the fields before taking part in World War II, and eventually becoming a civil rights and labor leader with the United Farm Workers (UFW), the union he founded in California. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 66.
In 2000, his birthday became a state holiday, when people are encouraged to volunteer in community service projects. The march was one of the first events in the country to honor Chavez, who fought for better wages and better working conditions for farm workers by leading boycotts, marches and hunger strikes across the country.
This past weekend Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the UFW and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, was the keynote speaker at the 5th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Inspirational Youth Conference at Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies in San Fernando.
Huerta was honored last year by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award presented annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improve the quality of life for Americans. Huerta was honored for her many years of fighting for the rights of farm workers, immigrants, women, children and low-income families.
The goal of the conference, attended by an estimated 400 young people, was to provide opportunities for students to become informed on issues impacting their community, and become engaged in community action to improve the quality of life for their families.
Andres Chavez, one of Chavez's grandsons, will be part of this year's march, which is largely made up of young people – another reason why it's important to keep the memory of Chavez alive 20 years after his passing, said Reza.
"They [young people] have some knowledge of Cesar, but what they know is something vague. With all the distractions today, it's very difficult to get them interested in historical figures. That's another reason our march is important. At least for a day or a few days, we do provide learning experiences for young people," Reza said.
This year's theme is "No Human Being is Illegal," in reference to the ongoing discussion in Washington, D.C.
regarding a possible immigration reform that takes million of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.
"This is a humanitarian and a civil rights issue," Reza said. "We know that if we all do something, make a call, write to our legislators, go to rallies, we can have a major impact in the legislation that Congress puts out."
|Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 05:19|