Cesar Chavez, leader of United Farm Workers and civil rights activist, had a profound effect on California and on Castro Valley, and deserves to be remembered and celebrated, according to members of Latinos United. The student group’s members say Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, should be a day off from school.
On Feb. 8, Latinos United members petitioned the school board to make Cesar Chavez Day a holiday giving students and teachers a day to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Chavez.
“He helped Latinos, giving them a chance in the workforce and showing that there should be equality within all communities,” said Andrès Gonzalez, president of Latinos United.
Chavez was born in 1927 in Yuma, Arizona and spent his early years of adulthood as a farm worker. He became a prominent activist voice for workers’ rights from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.
Chavez organized a number of strikes and legislative campaigns to protect farm workers and immigrants, notably the “Salad Bowl Strike,” the largest farm worker strike in American history.
Latinos United believes the day off would be a day to continue in pursuit of the ideals that Chavez held, those of equality and fairness.
“That day we [students] should do community work just like he did. We should try to do what he wanted,” said Gonzalez.
The hope is to bring awareness to the student body and staff of a man who contributed to the civil rights movement and helped fight for protections still held today.
Some students support the proposal. “It would be good because we get a day off for Martin Luther King Day, so it would make sense to celebrate another civil rights leader,” said sophomore Nolan Thompson.
“It would be an important way to educate students beyond school,” agreed sophomore Grace Boyd.
Gary Howard of the school board was happy to receive the petition, and expressed his hopes for the future. “The school calendar is set for this year, but I am hopeful that we can join other districts next year in celebrating Cesar Chavez Day,” he said.
If the petition passes and Cesar Chavez Day is made into a holiday, one day would be added into the school calendar to make up for the lost school time.
“We could benefit from it, not from doing nothing but from helping out the community,” said Gonzalez.