Farm workers and their families celebrate Cesar Chavez

Labor leader would have celebrated 86th birthday

DELANO, Calif. - Labor leader and activist, Cesar Chavez would have celebrated his 86th birthday.  Now, the man who helped create the National Farm Workers Association is being remembered for the legacy he left behind.

Communities across California, Colorado and Texas are celebrating the most important Latino leader in U.S. history.  In Kern County, farm workers are also remembering Chavez and his impact leading the first successful Farm Workers Union.

Andrew Cardenas still remembers the day Chavez passed away.

"I recall not going to school and marching with him and actually seeing his casket in a distance and meeting people like Robert Kennedy, Edward James Olmos, all these famous guys coming to one purpose and one cause for Cesar Chavez and that itself was worth missing school," he said.

Cardenas worked in the fields for a short time and even learned about Chavez's history through stories told by his grandmother.

"Without him things would have been bad," he said.

His garage is full of memories and old newspaper clippings dating back to the 1970's.  It's a period of history he'll be able to share with his son.

"They played a huge role of risking themselves as their careers, their images, but doing something that no one thought that can be done at the time," said Cardenas.

Cardenas and his brother often look over old articles, examining the past and learning from the events that happened in their own backyard.

"These interesting pictures about kids, it explains it all, parents are trying to make it in the fields, earn an income and knowing that they don't have papers, they could go back home," said Eric Cardenas of Delano.

Chavez is honored in Delano where he lived, with a school in his name and that long road where thousands marched.

"They always talk about him, they praise him.  There are some that don't really agree with what he did or dislikes him, but I think he did a good job with what he did," he said.

The Delano brothers plan on creating a community-wide project sometime in the future where people everywhere can contribute and learn more about Chavez and his work.

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