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March 31, 2011

Celebrating César Chávez


Sierra Club joins the labor and civil rights communities celebrating César Chávez this week. He is an inspiration for all people that work for justice, public lands, social, economic, and environmental justice and civil rights - all of which are values that Sierra Club defends and supports. 

César Chávez was a farm labor leader who fought to improve the wages and working conditions of agricultural workers. He also coordinated voter registration drives and campaigns against racial and economic discrimination. 

He also led the first successful farm workers union in U.S. history and in 1962 helped found the National Farm Workers Association, which we now know as the United Farm Workers of America. This union won the first industry-wide labor contracts in American agriculture. Chávez also opened the doors of colleges and universities to the Hispanic community in Texas, and, in turn, economic and political opportunity. 

César Chávez died in 1993, but his contributions are reflected in all the celebrations held today in states throughout the country. March 31 is a state holiday in California and an optional holiday in Colorado, Texas and other states. Celebrations also take place in the parks, cultural centers, libraries, schools, and streets of Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska and New Mexico, where people commemorate his March 31 birthday. 

Sierra Club joins César Chávez's birthday celebrations, not just to honor him, but as a day on which to re-commit ourselves to the struggle to make our community and our country a better place for our children and grandchildren.

-- Elizabeth Lopez


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