When is Cesar Chavez Day?
Cesar Chavez Day is always celebrated on his birthday, March 31st. President Barack Obama declared Cesar Chavez Day a national holiday in 2014.
It is not a federal holiday, but is a state holiday in California. It is either an optional or commemorative day in nine other states – Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Rhode Island.
California, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin observe Cesar Chavez day by closing schools and state offices.
In Los Angeles, government offices – city and county, and state – and also courts, libraries and schools are normally closed for César Chávez’ birthday holiday. In past years, Los Angeles city and county and state agencies have chosen either his actual birth date on March 31st, or a Friday or Monday before his birthday for a three-day weekend.
Background to Cesar Chavez Day
Cesar Chavez was born on March 31st 1927, in Yuma, Arizona. His family had moved to Northern California to work as migrant farm workers after losing their land in the great depression.
He served in the US Navy for two years at the end of the Second World War, returning to work on farms until 1952, when he became involved with the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group, rising to become its national director by 1958.
In 1962, Chavez became a cofounder of the National Farm Workers’ Association (now the United Farm Workers).
In this new role, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist. Leading the struggle for better rights for farm workers, his aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with wide support. His also gained national awareness as he went on several hunger strikes to highlight his campaigns.
Cesar Chavez died on April 23rd 1993 of unspecified natural causes, with some believing that his death may have been caused in part by his hunger strikes.
Some quotes from Cesar Chavez
“Preservation of one’s own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures.”
“From the depth of need despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.”
“We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure.”
“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community – and this nation.”
“There’s no turning back…We will win. We are winning because ours is a revolution of mind and heart.”
“Being of service is not enough. You must become a servant of the people. When you do, you can demand their commitment in return.”
“Self-dedication is a spiritual experience.”
“The end of all knowledge must be the building up of character.”
“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.”
“The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.”
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”
“When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines the kind of men we are.”
“To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us to be men!”
“The burdens of generations of poverty and powerlessness lie heavy in the fields of America. If we fail, there are those who will see violence as the shortcut to change.”
“It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity.”
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