César Chávez’s birthday, on Tuesday 31 March, is a state holiday in California, Colorado and Texas that aims to promote community service. It is not a federal holiday, but President Barack Obama proclaimed the date as “César Chávez Day” and urged Americans to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.”
César Chávez, whose motto was “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, it is possible,” or, “Yes, we can”), was a Mexican American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the national Farm Workers Association (known later as the United Farm Workers Union, UFW). His belief in non-violence helped farm workers, especially in the 1970s, to attain rights. Today, Chávez is recognized as an icon of the Latino civil rights movement. He is especially remembered for community organizing, his leadership in the protest movement supporting higher wages for grape pickers and the boycott of table grapes, his urging of Mexican Americans to register and vote, for his traveling throughout California, and for his speeches fighting for workers’ rights.
Since West Valley College will be on spring break during the official César Chávez Day, the Office of the Vice President of Student Services has planned a commemoration on Wednesday 25 March from noon to 3:00 PM in the Lower and Upper Lounge of the Campus Center. There will be music, refreshments, and the screening of the 2014 biopic feature film César Chávez: History is Made One Step at a Time starring Michael Peña, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, and John Malkovich and directed by Diego Luna.
This important film chronicles the birth of the workers and civil rights movement led by César Chávez. It depicts the impact that one person can make, and Chávez’s evolving commitment to justice and equality for laborers, especially Latinos. (In this video from 2014 at UC Berkeley, Diego Luna talks about his film and the life of César Chávez. And, in this audio file from 1972 at UCLA, César Chávez talks about his activism.) This event is free and open to everyone.