In a call for unity and rights for all, people came together in Sacramento for the Cesar Chavez march.
In 1968, Cesar Chavez took a stand against the California table grape growers. This event would change the lives of many of the workers and he would be remembered as a civil rights activist in the years to come.
Chavez was born to immigrant farm workers in Arizona, and later moved to California where he encountered the harsh conditions of migrant work that he would later fight against.
Cesar Chavez day, March 31st, is a state holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas.
It’s purpose is to promote community service in honor of Chavez’s life and work. Even though it has not been made a national holiday, Barack Obama told Americans to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.”
In honor of this day there will be a celebration at The Avid Reader by Tower Cafe. This evening will be filled with theatre, spoken word performances, and art. There will also be a live performance by Teatro Nagual. Along with this performance the Sacramento Poet laureate will be doing a couple of readings.
There will also be arts and crafts for all ages set up by the Sol Collective. In addition a UFW poster collection from the Latino Center of Art and Culture will be available for viewing. Miss Becky Chavez (Cesar Chavez’s niece) will be in attendance.
This event is free and open to all to attend. It will be held from 3:00pm to 6:00pm on:
Thursday, March 31st
The Avid Reader at Tower
Hundreds of community organizers, students, labor groups, and more took part in the 15th Annual Cesar Chavez March last Saturday, in order to continue the legacy of the farm worker and civil rights activists who passed away in 1993.
The event began Saturday morning at Southside Park, less than a mile from the Capitol, where a festival awaited the mass of supporters.
Traditional Aztec dancers took to the amphitheater as a crowd gathered, many donning red shirts and signs of the #RaiseTheWage campaign. The stage was filled with ritualistic smoke and beating drums as the Latino community remembered their heritage while also working for a better future for minorities in the US, as well as for the people suffering from violence and corruption in Mexico.
Besides pushing for a $15.47 minimum wage, participants rallied behind causes like immigration reform, worker’s rights, police brutality, public education, empowerment of women, and injustice from the Mexican government among other things.
Student Mildred Gonzalez spoke scornfully of the challenges Latinos and Latinas face here and in Mexico, where she, like many at the march, still has relatives.
“We have to do what needs to be done,” she said, referring to the corruption and violence that is not being addressed by the Mexican government, especially its handling of the apparent kidnapping and killing of 43 missing students in Mexico. “If something is wrong, change it,” she continued.
Gonzalez went on to advocate for higher education and increased representation for minorities in the education system.
“There isn’t anything more powerful than an educated Latina,” she declared.
Al Rojas, former Labor Commissioner of the state’s Department of Industrial Relations, spoke as well, calling on community members to hold the government accountable for its treatment of the so-called “one percent,” the wealthiest and often most influential people in the United States.
“How many CEO’s went to jail?” Rojas asked the crowd, to which it replied, “Zero.”
Rojas also made it clear that it is important to remind politicians that Latino voices matter too.
“We are coming after you,” he warned politicians and corporations who he sees as neglecting the needs of many in this country.
Speakers also included Senator Richard Pan, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, and County Boardmember Phil Serna.
As the former Labor Commissioner left the stage, the march began, with a fleet of classic cars leading the charge to the Capitol, with dancers, banner-waving demonstrators and the media not far behind.
The march, though less than a mile long, was filled with the waling of sirens from the caravan of cars, cheering, and chanting, “Si, se puede!” or “Yes we can.”
Food trucks and organization vendors waited as the crowd poured onto the south steps of the Capitol Building. From there, additional speakers voiced their concerns to an enthusiastic audience.
One man from the organization Veterans for Peace stepped up in solidarity with the Latin American community, criticizing the amount of money the federal government spends on the US military, money that many argue should go towards public services.
“I’ve been inside the belly of the beast,” he said. He then held up a multicolor ribbon representing the federal budget. The red bar, taking up about half of the ribbon, stood for the military budget, he claimed. The other slivers of color were for everything else.
More followed, with criticisms ranging from the president’s record on deportation to the less than livable wages earned by many in the state and the country.
Professor Dean Murakami of the Los Rios College Federation of Teachers responded to the assertion that the resources to raise the minimum wage and build up minority communities are just not there.
“California has the eighth largest economy in the world. One in eleven billionaires lives in California. Don’t tell me there’s no money.” Murakami went on to criticize policies that seem to allow much of the state’s wealth to remain in the hands of those billionaires.
Maile Hampton also spoke to the crowd of here experiences with local injustice. Hampton is currently awaiting trial in what many view as a bizarre and ironic case.
Hampton, a Sacramento resident, is facing a charge of what the California Penal Code defines as “lynching.” During a counter protest critical of police brutality, Hampton attempted to pull a fellow demonstrator out of police custody, for which she spent a day in jail, and will now appear in front of a judge next month.
The event took place just a few days before national Cesar Chavez Day, which is held on the iconic leader’s birthday, March 31st.
In November of 2012, the La Familia Youth Voice program and Teatro Nagual, with funding from The California Endowment, collaborated on a pilot program studying selected core values of Cesar Chavez.
Youth driven lesson plans were designed based on curriculum from the Cesar Chavez Foundation. Incorporating a study of the Julie Shannon musical “Let the Eagle Fly”, the participants demonstrated their commitment to the selected values be presenting their version of “Scenes and Moments from Let the Eagle Fly”, including student chosen quotes and speeches given by Cesar Chavez.
On September 13th, 2013, it all came together in an event produced and presented at La Familia Counseling Center.
Each week, participants in La Familia’s Youth Voice program are asked to take photos during their travels in order to capture something that is important or relevant to their daily life. Here’s what Ghandy submitted for this week:
A few years ago I remember walking down this street. It used to be very lively because of all the records they sold. Because of the economy, the store is closed down. The paintings signifies hope.
This is the march for the farmworkers on Cesar Chavez Day. They were protesting for fair wages for the workers.
Today was a special day for the Tiny Tots Program at the Coloma Community Center. The children learned about a lot of different things: singing, letters, and even gardening. What you may not know is that their teacher, Ms. Becky, is the niece of a Cesar Chavez, a great leader and farm worker. As a child, Ms. Becky remembers walking with her Uncle Cesar side-by-side on picket lines and helping plant.
Ms. Becky and Ms. Acasia worked with the kids today. They learned about gardening and growing their own plants. They will be putting them into their new community garden and planting other seeds as well. This special ceremony was joined by Councilmember Kevin McCarty (District 6) who helped with the dedication.
This makes the dedication to the “Tiny Tots Community Garden” extra special and they were thankful to the folks who made it possible, such as Councilmember McCarty, Sutter Medical Center and the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447.
So remember next time you are at Access Sacramento checking out equipment, at our “A Place Called Sacramento” Cast and Crew Call, please come by and visit the “Tiny Tots Community Garden”. And remember “It is a Small World After All”….