"Grant me the courage to serve others; for in service there is true life."
--Cesar E. Chavez
As you hopefully know, this year marks the third official celebration of the California state holiday honoring the late labor and social leader, Cesar E. Chavez (whose birthday is March 31st). There have been many celebrations and volunteer events over the last week and more will continue the next few days or weeks taking place across California and nationwide, with the official California Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning on Monday, March 31st.
It has been 10 years since Cesar's passing and each year becomes more meaningful and important to acknowledge his contribution to society as man who stood up for his convictions and beliefs. This year being especially significant with the premiere of the play "Cesar & Ruben", a musical tribute to the life of Cesar Chavez and journalist Ruben Salazar, currently being performed at the El Portal Theater. More importantly in the next few weeks will be the official release of the Cesar Chavez United States Stamp, which will occur at a public celebration in Downtown Los Angeles on April 23, 2003 -- the 10th anniversary of Cesar's passing.
Leaders in the community, politics, labor, business, and the arts will join the Chavez Foundation, the Chavez family and the United States Postal Service for the event. If you can't make the event in person, than make sure when you go buy stamps on April 23rd or afterwards you request the Cesar Chavez stamp and make sure to tell your family and friends nationwide. Also scheduled for later this summer will be the grand opening of the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial Gardens in La Paz, California.
I hope you have a good week, whether you are at work, at home, at school or participating in some way in a volunteer event or celebration of Cesar's life -- whether you live in California or not, whether you are young or old, whether you are Latina/o or Chicana/o or not.
Whenever we eat fruits or vegetables we should remember Cesar Chavez and the farm workers he fought so long for.
Whenever we are hungry we should remember Cesar Chavez for the many times he fasted to get across his points through non-violent action and forms of protest.
Whenever we pass a street or school, a park, health clinic or community center named after Cesar Chavez or celebrate or honor Cesar in any way we should remember that the struggle for which he and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi and other valiant warriors of human and social rights fought for is not over especially in these troubled times with the uncalled for violence that is occurring in parts of the world.
As we honor Cesar Chavez, let us dedicate ourselves annually to a commitment to excellence in everything we do, to learning something new everyday, to living a life of defending the voiceless and powerless people in society and never stop fighting against ethnic inequality or bilingual hatred.
As we remember Cesar Chavez, let us also remember the many people who toil in the fields today making it possible for us all to buy food at the store or eat at restaurants. Let us remember Dolores Huerta and the thousands of people of all ethnicities and religions who marched with Cesar and the thousands who will continue to march and fight for equality and justice.
As we reflect on Cesar's life let us remember the history and contributions he and other Mexican-Americans and Latina/os have made in the United States and around the world. Let us remember that a strike or boycott organized by the United Farm Workers Union is just as significant if not more so than a strike by any other labor organization. We can live without many things in our modern lives, but can we live without the labor of the farm workers who do the work no one wants to do to put food on our plates?
As we celebrate Cesar's life, let us never forget why he fought, for whom he fought and how he fought and won many battles in his life. The history he and those who stood with him must never be forgotten and we must go the extra mile to make sure his story is told.
Let us remember Cesar Chavez as a man, not a myth or a legend, who fought for what he believed in and gave us all an inspiration of hope with the simple words "?Si Se Puede!" no matter what our goals may be.
For more information about the history & accomplishments of Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers Union, the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation or how to volunteer in or organize a community event as part of the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning, please visit: