Feliz Cumpleanos, Cesar Chavez

Pierce College will be closed on Thursday.

 

Several students will get to sleep in.

 

Whatever it is you choose to do during your day off, take just a few minutes to reflect on the life of an activist that devoted the majority of his life striving for human equality.

 

César Chávez’ countless efforts, are meant to be recognized by the California state holiday, acknowledged on his birthday. Despite being observed by some state agencies and schools, there is little awareness and even less public action that commemorates the busy life he led.

 

A large source of California’s economy relies on agriculture.

 

In 2009, agriculture earned $34.8 billion, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The annual report by the department outlines that sales in field crops for fruits, nuts and vegetables accounted for $23.2 billion of that sum.

 

The agriculture industry, depends heavily on its workers.

 

A Mexican-American born in Arizona, Chávez and his family were farm workers that were impacted by the lack of basic needs in the work place, low paying wages and exposure to toxic pesticides.

 

His activism against the disadvantages he and the people around him faced, began in the 1950’s and continued until the end of his life in 1993.

 

Chávez spent much of his time speaking publicly advocating a better life for hundreds.

 

He is known for fasting during lengthy periods of time, being one of the founders of the United Farm Workers and for using the slogan “Sí, se puede.”

 

Even though, the majority of the agriculture workers Chavez organized were of Mexican descent, his fight for equality wasn’t a fight for Mexicans or a fight for Latinos : it was a fight for human beings.

 

The next time you drive North on U.S. Highway 101 and pass by the extensive fields that grow strawberries, I hope you think of how significant their sales are and how significant the labor behind the fruit is.

March 31, is much more than just a holiday, and a day off from school. It is the birthday of a man who deserves to be acknowledged a little bit.

 

Just a little.

 

Feliz cumpleaños, César Chávez.