The César E. Chávez Legacy & Educational Foundation has announced its citywide plans and celebrations leading to the 20th Annual César E. Chávez March for Justice, scheduled for Friday, March 26.
Chávez, who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta, is best known for organizing labor unions to represent Latino Americans working in agriculture. Cities throughout the world continue to celebrate his legacy and contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
The 20th Annual March will be themed “Continuing to Build a Strong Bridge to the Future through Education,” and Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5) will lead the event as Grand Marshal.
Jaime Martinez, CECLEF founder, recently met with foundation supporters and City officials outside City Hall to thank them continuing to fight for equality and education.
Councilman Alan Warrick (D2), on behalf of the City, recognized the achievements of Chávez and the foundation. Other political officials including state Sen. José Menéndez, and representatives for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Councilman Cris Medina (D7) were present for the announcement. According to Martinez, the work of Chávez has helped improve opportunities for minorities, but there is still work to be done.
“¡Si Se puede!” the crowd cried. “Yes we can.”
Some members held a large banner for the foundation that showed Chávez’s image. Others clapped, cheered and waved American flags. There were several brown berets in the crowd, but there were no supporters under the age of 30.
Several young passerbys slowed their pace as they approached City Hall; they smiled when the group invited them to join in the celebrations, but they shook their heads as they picked up the pace.
This generation, many who grew up with and fought alongside Chávez, says that there is still a lot of work to be done for civil rights and opportunities. Thousands of young people show up for the César E. Chávez March each year because they want things to change, Martinez said, but they don’t show up at the voting polls.
“I think it’s sad that there’s not more people showing up, we still have so much work to do,” Martinez said. His son, Ernesto, believes that young voters are frustrated with politicians because they create platforms aimed to attract older voters.
“I tell people, ‘don’t show up because you’re frustrated, show up and organize,’” he said. “Young people – Millennials – if they could organize, they could really change things. I don’t know how that will happen though.”
Sylvia Don, who was the foundation’s first scholarship award winner in 1997, believes that community change can take place with better educational opportunities. The CECLEF awards more than $125,000 in scholarships each year, Martinez said. Those scholarships allow young people to enjoy new opportunities and give back to their communities.
The general consensus was that there is still work to be done.
“We definitely need to do a better job of reminding young people of the work of Chavez and reminding them of their heritage,” said Councilwoman Gonzales during a phone interview on Feb. 26. “(These events) remind our community of the important roles that these people play. With so much media and attention on the politics right now, it’s important to remember his legacy, and continue to do our part.”
To view a complete list of Cesar Chavez events click here.
*Top Image: L to R: Jaime Martinez and Henry lead the crowd to chant “Si se pude” Photo by Lea Thompson.