Happy César Chávez Day

For those who don’t know, today is César Chávez Day. Chávez was a migrant worker from a young age and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with the ever-awesome Dolores Huerta. (The NFWA would later merge with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers of America.) In addition to being a champion of labor rights, he was also an advocate for civil rights and immigration rights, and he was a proponent of non-violence.

César Chávez Day is celebrated primarily in California, but I still think it’s damn awesome that he even has a day in his honor. It’s not so often that Latinos are honored with their own holidays. Of course, I’m slightly bitter that Dolores Huerta doesn’t have her own day, but whatevs, I love her beyond belief so perhaps I’m a bit biased there.

At any rate, Chávez was hugely important to the labor movement. There’s a nice bio on him on UFW’s website that’s worth checking out. And because I’m a lover of quotations, here are my favorites:

Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?

You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.

How will you celebrate César Chávez today?


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10 Responses to Happy César Chávez Day

  1. By seeking to find strategies to incorporate minorities and women into positions of authority without resorting to tokenism, and by seeking to find complete gender parity in so doing. This will likely take a minimum of fifty years, but one must start somewhere.

  2. Amy says:

    Here’s one of my favorite Chavez quotes: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”

  3. Amy, you made my day with that quote. I had only ever read the last sentence of that quote, and it’s so much better in full.

  4. drydock says:

    The UFW at this point is pretty much a family for profit business. For anyone interested in checking out what a bullshit organization it has become should check out this four part series by Miriam Pawel in the LA Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jan/08/local/me-ufw8

    For a second opinion on Cesar Chavez from a left-wing labor writer readers should check out this piece by Michael Yates: http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/YatesOnUFW.html

  5. drydock, why must you be an asshole? Most of the points brought up in that piece are already well-known and established. The fact is that nobody should look up to our leaders as flawless in any way because, surprise!, they never are. If the book Yates is contesting is really as bad as he makes it seem, then many of his points are completely valid. But that piece is also trying way too hard to knock down the image people have of Chavez.

    I mean, seriously, if Shaw ever implied that the UFW was unique and largely Chavez’s creation then holy shit, that’s an awful book because anybody with the slightest bit of knowledge on the subject already knows that. But that’s no reason to color Chavez as a “dictator.”

  6. drydock says:

    My point isn’t to trash Chavez, but to point out what his legacy has become. Most people in fact know very little about Chavez or the UFW. The UFW raises 10 to 20 million a year while controlling foundations worth maybe a $150 million dollars yet they do not organize farmworkers. They have very few, if any rank and file members. The UFW is a multi million dollar family racket while farmworkers languish unorganized and as impoverished as ever.

    http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/page2/20091112_marc_cooper_on_the_fate_of_cesar_chavezs_dream/

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/19930726/bardacke

  7. Most people in fact know very little about Chavez or the UFW.

    That’s because most people know very little about the labor movement, and certainly even less about prominent Latinos in American history. I also doubt that the people who know very little about either would be promoting anything like the “Chavez as Christ” thing from that previous article you linked to. Furthermore, why are we talking about UFW in its current state? I don’t see how that’s relevant to celebrating the life and achievements of a man who, for all his faults and grandiose visions, was deeply committed to social change on so many fronts? The dreams of a founder are hardly ever close to the reality of an organization, especially once the founders are gone.

  8. Alison says:

    And when is Dolores Huerta Day? What will we do to celebrate the life of Dolores Huerta? Dolores Huerta deserves every bit of recognition as Cesar Chavez.

  9. Marc Grossman says:

    This person “drydock” wrote that “The UFW at this point is pretty much a family for profit business” and “a bullshit organization,” citing a four-part series by Miriam Pawel in the L.A. Times. Drydock should know that the California Department of Justice conducted an exhaustive nearly one-year investigation of Pawel’s claims and concluded in a 12-page report, “The [L.A. Times] articles, on their face, appeared to raise serious questions regarding certain transactions. A closer review revealed that all of the allegations deemed by our office to require investigation were, in the end, found to be without merit.”

  10. Marc Grossman says:

    For the link to the 12-page California Department of Justice report repudiating most of Miriam Pawel’s allegations against the Chavez family in her 2006 L.A.Times story see:
    http://www.ufw.org/pdf/AG_Letter.pdf

    For the UFW’s response to Marc Cooper’s attack on the UFW and Chavez family that drydock also cites, visit:
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20091113_response_from_ufw_to_marc_cooper/

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