Sí se puede.—César Chávez
First President of the
United Farm Workers
Organizing Committee (UFWOC)
Born March 31, 1927, César Estrada Chávez is perhaps the most renowned Latino civil rights activist. Two years ago, perhaps with the aim of seeing “one of America’s greatest champions for social justice” get his rightful place among his peers, President Obama proclaimed “March 31, 2014, as Cesar Chavez Day.” The president issued the third iteration of the César Chávez Day, Presidential Proclamation, March 30, 2016.
The Presidential Proclamation serves as a brief overview of the achievements of this leader of Latino civil rights. Within it, the president reminds us that migrant farm workers “were exposed to dangerous pesticides and denied the most basic protections, including minimum wages, health care, and access to drinking water.”
Also this month, on March 17, 1966, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the event best known as the March to Sacramento. Thanks to Roberto Bustos (“El Capitán”), who marched along with César Chavez, we are reminded of that “twenty-five-day, three-hundred mile pilgrimage from California’s San Joaquin Valley” to Sacramento, California (Steven Harmon Wilson, p. 143).
For those of you who enjoy documentaries, there is a documentary titled The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle, which according to Jack Hailey, “traces the history of the United Farmworkers Union and the life of its founder” (Jack Hailey, IMDb).