LatinaLista — In remembering the birthday of Cesar Chavez, one of the most famous Latino civil rights activists of the 20th Century, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reveals in her blog post the role Chavez played as an environmentalist — the forerunner to the Green Movement.
As Secretary Solis points out, Chavez’s vision of the relationship between society and the earth underscores how visionary Chavez really was when it came to improving relationships — whether it was between farmworkers and their employers or all humans with the planet that feeds us all.
Sec. of Labor Hilda Solis
Remembering Cesar Chavez: the Man, the Activist, the EnvironmentalistBy Hilda Solis
Today we honor the lifelong work of Cesar Estrada Chavez on what would have been his 83rd birthday. He was a labor leader and advocate of non-violent social action, who without fail articulated an environmental and social justice message.
Being a farm worker himself, he understood that farm workers live according to the cycle of the seasons. There is nothing more basic to our planet than nature’s rhythms. His respect for the planet and interconnectedness with its seasonal changes fomented the image of Cesar Chavez as the first Latino environmentalist.
Chavez often preached that the greatest connection we have with the earth is through the food that we eat and through those who work the fields. He promoted sustainable communities and emphasized how farm workers have been at the forefront of environmentalism and in many respects have been pushing the green movement for decades.
The green movement is not just about technology, but more about a practice of sustainable living where people embrace practices like energy efficiency and conservation, where we teach our children and neighbors about the importance of recycling and reuse.
Today, we have a unique opportunity to attack the energy crisis head on and create a comprehensive energy policy that will bolster our economy, create jobs, end our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the threat of deadly pollution that devastates our climate and our communities.
The greening of our economy will bring significant changes to the American workplace and requires workers to acquire new and different skills.
That is why the Department of Labor has invested $500 million to provide workers the tools necessary to enter the clean energy economy, through green job training, with an emphasis on women, Latinos, African Americans, and our returning veterans.
Jobs like building wind turbines or a new power electricity grid, manufacturing solar panels and lithium batteries, weatherizing homes and office buildings, are just a few examples.
These jobs pay 10 percent to 20 percent more, providing opportunities for more than a job, but a career with a future and a future for a better life.
By investing in green jobs, the Department of Labor is working to pave a pathway out of poverty; strengthening urban and rural communities; rebuilding a strong middle class; and protecting the health of our citizens and becoming stewards of the planet.
I can think of no better way to honor the life’s work of Cesar Chavez than to continue to work on behalf of the most vulnerable in our country and help usher our nation towards a pathway of sustainability.
Si Se Puede!