LatinaLista — Though there aren't many Latino leaders in Washington to emulate these days, it's time to remember one man who is not only worth remembering and emulating â€” but celebrating.
I'm talking about Cesar Chavez â€” the first Latino and labor leader who has been honored with an official public holiday in his name.
Because of Cesar's fight to bring awareness to the pitiful working conditions of migrant farm workers, things improved and finally farm workers were given a voice that had previously been denied them.
In the process, Cesar gained notoriety from coast to coast.
So much so that Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin all observe the holiday on March 31 (Cesar's birthday) that honors Cesar Chavez.
Yet surprisingly, or not, today's younger generation doesn't really know about Cesar and why the fight he led to gain respect for some of the hardest working and most vulnerable people in this country was so important.
What's worse, since many of our young Latinos don't go on to college and have the opportunity to take a Chicano/Latino history class, they may never really know about Cesar.
But Angel Cervantes wants to change that.
(Source: Latina Lista (LL))
Angel, a 34-year-old 4th-grade California elementary school teacher and community college adjunct history professor has created a hands-on activity book teaching children about who Cesar Chavez was, what he believed in, how he accomplished his goals and why it's important to remember him.
Cesar Chavez history and activity book
In an e-mail interview with Latina Lista, Angel explains his reasons for creating such a book to bring Latino history to life for the next generation:
I met Cesar on several occasions when I was in college and my father was a campesino in the 1950s. Cesar is a hero to me and he stands for concepts like non-violence and workers' rights â€” I wanted children to learn about those concepts.
As a community college professor, I was saddened by the fact that most of our community never learns about the Chicano movement because most of our community does not go to college.
I wanted to bring the history that I teach in college into the elementary schools so that every child would grow up knowing their history, regardless of whether they have the opportunity to go to college or not.
Since the book is aimed at elementary school children, it teaches them the basic "vocabulary" that they need to discuss the issues of non-violence, human rights and worker dignity. We introduce words like "huelga" and "hunger strike" to children and this gives the teacher/parent an opportunity to have discussions about those concepts with children.
Example of learning activity about Cesar Chavez
Angel, along with fellow teacher and activist, Richard Ramos, have been working on bringing Cesar's story to elementary-age children for about 4 years. It is only by word-of-mouth that its popularity has grown.
Angel sells the book for $2.00 but says for those who order more than ten books, the price goes down to $1.50 a book.
To order the book, contact Angel at email@example.com.
The more we know about our own history, the more we can respect and identify with other people's struggles. This book is a tool for parents/teachers to begin conversations with young people about these important concepts.
And as we all know, it's never too early â€” nor too late to start those much needed conversations!