LatinaLista — Today is the birthdate of United Farm Worker founder Cesar Chavez.
For the the nationwide community of Mexican-Americans, Chavez is a heroic role model because his actions, on behalf of the migrant farmer, resulted in positive change. His courage created a legacy that while remembered is also forgotten until the words he made famous, Si se puede, are randomly invoked by politicians and activists.
Pablo Lopez of Flint (left) walks carrying his own tribute to Cesar E. Chavez while taking part in the Cesar E. Chavez March on Chavez Drive. Lopez has been an activist all his life and marched with Chavez in Chicago.
(Source: Jim Cheek | The Flint Journal)
For example, while President Barack Obama remembered Chavez’ birthday with an official statement, GOOGLE creators did not.
While California, and seven other states, celebrate Cesar Chavez’ birthdate as a state holiday, 42 other states do not. And while some school districts have been teaching students about the life of Cesar Chavez, the Dallas (Texas) Independent School District, of which 65.3 percent of the students is Hispanic, announced only this week that Chavez’s struggle for farm worker rights will be incorporated into elementary school lessons beginning in April and high school students will learn about ChÃ¡vez next school year as part of their social studies classes.
And while some cities in the nation have a street named in honor of Cesar Chavez, many other cities still resist the idea.
This “imbalance” in honoring the only Latino figure who has garnered national recognition sends a mixed message to Latino youth and non-Latinos and underscores the need to create a national Cesar Chavez Day.
Not designating March 31 as national day to recognize Cesar Chavez means that in some parts of the country the man and his life are known and in other parts he is known simply for originating the phrase “Si se puede.”
It doesn’t matter that Cesar Chavez was a Mexican American. His brown skin, Hispanic background and initiative to stand up for migrant farmers makes him an individual that all Latinos can relate to on some level and be proud that he stood up for a group that was taken advantage of.
A national day to honor Cesar Chavez unifies recognition of the man and elevates his profile unlike a thousand disjointed celebrations strive to do. It sends a clear message to Latino youth that Cesar Chavez is an important individual who has garnered respect, not just from the people, but the government.
A national Cesar Chavez day sends the message to non-Latinos who sit in the majority on city councils and school boards across the nation that this man is not a footnote in US history but is a part of US history and, as such, has garnered the type of respect that leaves no argument for whether or not there should be a city street named in his honor but which street should be named for him.