The Legacy of César Chávez
Today we celebrate the birth and legacy of the civil rights leader, César Chávez. César was an American hero who championed the cause of equality and advocated for workers’ rights. He taught us all the importance of fighting for justice in order to form a more perfect nation. Under his leadership, farm workers organized to form what is now known as United Farm Workers (UFW).
César Chávez, the farm worker movement, and the fight for civil rights are deeply rooted in the history of the Coachella Valley and its communities. I remember the energy and vitality of our community when César Chávez came to organize farm worker parents after school at Coachella Valley High School. I saw dignity in their faces and honor in their struggle to earn a dignified wage and achieve the American Dream. I learned that even in the face of adversity and poverty, we can thrive.
“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice.” -César Chávez
Last week I introduced the César Chávez National Historical Park Act to honor the legacy of César Chávez and remember the shared struggles of our communities. The César Chávez National Historical Park Act would permanently protect five nationally significant sites, provide federal matching funds to help local advocates and communities tell their story, and allow the Secretary of Interior to create an American Farm Worker Movement Interpretive Route to link properties associated with César Chávez. Locally significant sites in Coachella, Mecca, and Blythe could be included along the interpretive route and would be eligible for grants to help preserve and tell the story of these important places.
Introducing this bill will forever ensure that future generations do not forget the struggles their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents overcame to provide a better future. It will remind us all of our social responsibility to serve our communities. I never imagined I would have the opportunity to honor César Chávez, who inspired me — the son of farm workers — to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor, in this way. I will remember his important phrase as I work to get this bill passed: Si se puede! (Yes we can do it!)
Raul Ruiz, M.D.
Member of Congress