Celebrate The Life of Cesar Chavez
The life of Cesar Chavez is celebrated on March 31, and Cesar Chavez Day is an official state holiday in California, Colorado and Texas. The day honors Cesar Chavez’s life and work, which helped protect and improve the lives of migrant farm workers.
Chavez’s efforts and sacrifices opened the doors for undocumented immigrants to be able to apply for driver’s licenses in California (with the passage of senate bill AB 60). This new law goes into effect January 1, 2015 and will allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally and get car insurance.
Although it’s not an official federal holiday, President Barack Obama has declared March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day in the United States.
Cesar Chavez Day is celebrated in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico, and has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. In 2009, Nevada passed a law that requires the governor to annually call for an announcement declaring March 31 as César Chávez Day.
Highlights from César Chávez’s life:
- 1927 Cesar Chavez is born on March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Arizona.
- 1942 Chavez quits grammar school to work full-time in the fields.
- 1946 Chavez enlists in the Navy, where he serves for two years in the Pacific.
- 1952 Chavez joins the Community Service Organization (CSO) in San Jose, Calif., and becomes an organizer in the Mexican American community, leading voter registration drives and opposing racial and economic discrimination.
- 1958 Chavez becomes executive director of the CSO, moves headquarters to Los Angeles.
- 1962 Chavez founds the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in Delano, Calif., with labor leader Dolores Huerta.
- 1965 The NFWA joins the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) who had begun striking against grape growers in Delano.
- 1966 The strikers march 250 miles from Delano to Sacramento to present a list of their demands. First contracts for American farm workers signed by several grape companies.
- 1966 NFWA and AWOC merge, forming the United Farm Workers (UFW), which becomes an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
- 1968 Chavez leads a two-year national boycott of California table grape growers.
- 1970 The UFW signs a contract with most California table grape growers, ending the strike.
- 1975 The California Labor Relations Act goes into effect, allowing farm workers the right to boycott and to collective bargaining.
- 1988 Chavez carries out a 36-day “Fast for Life” to call attention to the health hazards faced by farm workers by pesticide exposure.
- 1993 Chavez dies on April 23, 1993.
- 1994 President Bill Clinton awards posthumous Medal of Freedom to Chavez.
- 2000 California establishes a state holiday on Chavez’s birthday.
- 2003 United States Postal Service honors Chavez with a commemorative postage stamp.
Celebrate the achievments of this civil rights pioneer on March 31, and if you haven’t applied for your driver’s license yet and lack car insurance, you should prepare for the written exam by studying the California Driver Handbook, available on the DMV webpage at www.dmv.ca.gov.
What are you doing to celebrate César Chávez Day? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments in the comments section below.