BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - President Obama journeys Monday to La Paz for formal ceremony establishing a national monument at the Keene, Calif. site where Cesar Chavez lived, worked and is buried
Cesar Chavez’s widow, Helen Chavez, his middle son, Paul F. Chavez, president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, and United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez have responded to President Obama’s announcement today (Oct. 1) establishing the Cesar Chavez National Monument. The President travels Monday to the National Chavez Center at La Paz in the Tehachapi Mountain hamlet of Keene, Calif. for the official ceremony marking the designation.
We thank President Obama and Secretary Salazar for establishing this national monument and ensuring that La Paz, where Cesar lived and worked his last 22 years and where he asked to be buried, will always be preserved. But the President is doing more than honoring one man. Cesar knew there were many Cesar Chavezes, men and women who made genuine sacrifices and accomplished great things but whose names are largely forgotten. If Cesar were here, he would say the President isn’t acting to recognize him; he’s honoring the farm workers and all of those who sacrificed by joining the cause. It is in that spirit that we acknowledge the President’s designation and we are grateful to him.
--Helen F. Chavez, widow of Cesar Chavez
My father inspired farm workers, millions of Latinos and people from all walks of life who never worked on a farm. So we are happy that the story of La Paz, which was a spiritual harbor and a place where my dad and thousands of selfless people worked for social justice over the years, will forever be shared with the nation through the National Park Service.
--Paul F. Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s middle son and president, Cesar Chavez Foundation
Even though Cesar Chavez dedicated his life to the farm workers, his legacy, reflected at La Paz where he spent his last quarter century, transcended farm labor and even Latinos because it became a universal message of hope, empowerment and social justice.
--Arturo S. Rodriguez, president, United Farm Workers of America
Many of the farm worker movement’s most significant milestones of the 1970s and beyond and were born, planned and coordinated at La Paz. Among them were major field strikes and national boycotts, landmark political campaigns in California and Arizona, and strategy sessions leading to enactment of California’s historic 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act, still the nation’s only law establishing the right of farm workers to organize.
In addition to where Cesar Chavez and many others in the movement engaged in their life’s work, La Paz also offered a respite from bitter struggles in agricultural valleys and big cities. It is where Chavez returned to recharge his batteries, celebrate victories, mourn losses, forge new ideas, strategize and plan the next campaign, and where he helped the union endure and modernize, and watch his children and the children of other movement volunteers grow over the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Chavez asked to be buried at La Paz, which remains an enduring testament to the strength of his association with the property.
The Cesar Chavez Foundation, a (501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, was founded by the Chavez family in the wake of Chavez’s passing in 1993, to maximize human potential and improve communities by preserving, promoting and applying Chavez’s legacy and universal values. Learn more about the Chavez foundation at its web site, http://www.chavezfoundation.org/
The United Farm Workers of America, the first successful farm workers union in American history, marks its 50th anniversary in 2012. It continues actively helping farm workers organize, negotiate union contracts and enact legislative reforms in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. providing them with additional protections. For more about the UFW, visit its web site, www.ufw.org