Thousands march for Cesar Chavez
Mar 28, 2010
By Robert Castillo
SAN ANTONIO - According to police estimates, as many as 5,000
participated in Saturday's Cesar Chavez March for Justice chanting
"Si Se Puede" and "Viva Chavez" as a tribute to the long and
difficult struggle of Cesar Chavez to organize farm workers.
Saturday's march moved from the Guadalupe Plaza in the city's
westside along a three mile tract ending in front of the Alamo in
downtown San Antonio, Texas.
A similar tribute was held earlier in the week in San Jose,
California where Merlyn Calderson, a United Farm Workers national
vice president addressed students at San Jose State University. "For
more than a century, farm workers were treated as modern day slaves.
Besides just the basic things that farm workers needed, the dignity
and respect deserved was nonexistent," Calderon said.
It was after much difficulty that Chavez and labor leader Dolores
Huerta were able to form the National Farm Workers Association. That
later became known as the United Farm Workers.
The event in San Antonio began with a number of community leaders
addressing the crowd at Guadalupe Plaza before the start of the
march. One of the most notable speaker was Arun Gandhi, grandson of
the late Mahatma Gandhi whose life was devoted to improving workers
civil rights and freedom all over the world. Mahatma Gandhi was
assassinated in January 1946 as he prepared to address a prayer meeting.
"Anything that seeks justice through non-violence I am glad to be
part of it," stated Arun Gandhi as we took his place in the march,
surrounded by dozens of students from Our Lady of the Lake University
where he was scheduled to participate in a protest against hate
crimes and prejudices later in the day .
Jaime Martinez, Chairman of the Board of the March Association
introduced notable city officials including the Mayor Julian Castro,
City Councilman David Medina, Police Chief William McManus and
several candidates for the run-off elections scheduled for November.
Many of the participants were also representing local universities
and colleges, including St. Mary's University, Lady of the Lake
University and the University of Texas.
The group disbanded after a final rally in front of the Alamo.
Students march in honor of Cesar Chavez
Hundreds of students are expected to march in the event, which will
commemorate Chavez's work.
By Rachel Lew
March 24, 2010
The United Migrant Student Association will celebrate the legacy of
Cesar Chavez Thursday afternoon through a campus march symbolizing
the 340-mile march that Chavez led from Delano to Sacramento in 1966.
Chavez, a leading Mexican American activist for migrant workers,
founded the United Farm Workers Union in 1962. The organization
fought against the injustices migrant workers were facing, demanding
equal rights, better working conditions and better pay. Chavez
organized farm workers from the 1960s until his death in 1993.
The statewide observance lands on Chavez's birthday of March 31, but
Cal State Long Beach's spring break will leave the campus closed
March 29 to April 2. The campus celebration will take place in the
Southwest Terrace and will include musical and dance performances,
guest speakers and entertainment.
"This event is an important commemoration of Cesar Chavez's memory
and his accomplishments for the community," said Tina Thi Phan,
public relations chair of UMSA. "The whole purpose of this
organization is to promote farm-worker rights and issues, which is
exactly what Cesar Chavez did during his life."
UMSA members hope attendees learn about the sacrifices Chavez made
and create unity within the campus community.
The celebration begins at 10:45 a.m. March 25, where hundreds of
students are expected to march on campus. The march is a reflection
of Chavez paving the way for Latino civil rights through union
demands to the state government and to bring national attention to
the cause of the United Farm Workers. Different genres of music will
be played during the march, such as Tamborazo "Pancho Villa" from
East Los Angeles.
"In the past, there has always been a mariachi with the march. This
year, we decided to go with a tamborazo in order to make the event
more traditional," Phan said.
Festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. with guest speakers and a dance
performance by Alma Latina, a dance group from Los Angeles with a few
members from CSULB. The opening remark will be given by Jose Moreno,
a professor in the Chicano and Latino studies department. Other
speakers include freshman film major Sandra Jimenez and Andrew
Espinoza, director of the Educational Opportunity Program.
"To make the Southwest Terrace look lively, we will have balloon arcs
and streamers," Phan said. "There will also be an altar in place as a
tribute to not only Cesar Chavez, but to all of the migrant workers
who have passed away working in the fields."
Phan said the annual event maintains the same basic structure, but
every year the organization has different entertainment and guest speakers.
Last year's event had more than 300 guests. UMSA is hoping for an
even larger turnout this year.
Workers' rally draws on spirit of Chavez
By Heather McWilliams
Even 17 years after his death, Cesar Chávez can still draw a crowd.
More than 200 people attended a march and rally in Denver on Saturday
to honor the late civil-rights leader, who would have been 83 this Wednesday.
"I'm here because I think Cesar Chávez is a hero of this country, and
he needs to be recognized for it," said Adrienne Benavidez.
After a morning Mass at St. Joseph's Church honoring Chávez, people
flocked to the streets. Some held signs reading, "Yes to Immigration
Reform" or "Stop the Raids."
An advocate of nonviolent protest, Chávez co-founded the United Farm
Workers of America and advocated better working conditions.
Poor conditions persist today, critics say, for people such as
Ignacio Alvarado, who came to the U.S. from Chile in the 1990s to
work as a shepherd.
Often living in small, isolated trailers called "campitos," many
shepherds have no running water, bathrooms or electricity and little
access to medical care, and they are expected to be on call 24 hours
a day, Alvarado said. All this for around $750 a month. It's a
difficult life with sometimes difficult employers, he said.
"With my own eyes, I've seen a boss hit a worker," Alvarado said, and
he knows another who lost his vision due to an accident while
shepherding. Now Alvarado works as a shepherd-outreach coordinator
for Colorado Legal Services, an organization offering legal
assistance and information to low-income workers.
Cases of wages denied, medical attention refused, friends not allowed
to visit and workers' documents being held by employers all cross
Jennifer Lee's desk as a managing attorney in Colorado Legal
Services' migrant farmworker division, she said.
Lee and Alvarado spoke at the afternoon rally. People sang and
chanted in the march, calling for social change.
Passing Chávez's tradition of advocacy on to the next generation and
celebrating his importance drew Raymond Ayon and his daughter to the march.
"His example of humility, courage and faith shows us you put aside
your own needs to serve all people," Ayon said.
That was a sentiment shared by many who said the issues and
conditions facing immigrants today make Chávez as relevant now as years ago.
"If those conditions still exist, then the spirit of Cesar Chávez
still exists," said Daniel Salcido of Denver.
Heather McWilliams: 303-954-1698 or email@example.com