On Cesar Chavez’s Birthday
Response from Chavez Family & UFW President Following White House Meeting with President Obama
United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez and Paul F. Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, issued these statements following a meeting at the White House with President Obama and members of the Chavez family plus Rodriguez and UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta on what would have been the farm labor and civil rights leader’s 83rd birthday.
From Arturo S. Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers of America:
We thank President Obama for honoring Cesar Chavez on this important day for millions of Americans. We thank the President for his concern for the farm workers who feed our nation every day, and for his strong support of immigration reform. No other change is more urgently needed, and would be more lasting. We shared with President Obama 10 letters written to him by farm workers from across the country, telling him about the realities and challenges of their lives.
Cesar Chavez has been honored in hundreds of communities across the nation. His birthday is an official holiday in 11 states. But the best way to honor Cesar is by helping the farm workers to whom he dedicated his life, and by using our lives to serve others less fortunate than us.
From Paul F. Chavez, President, Cesar Chavez Foundation:
We thank President Obama for having the Chavez family and farm worker movement join him today. We recognize how his dedication to community and public service parallels my father’s. Cesar Chavez’s message was not just for farm workers or Latinos; it was universal: By helping ordinary people do extraordinary things, he inspired farm workers and millions of others from all walks of life who never worked on a farm to believe in themselves, to do things they would never have thought possible.
It was epitomized by the words from my father’s 1972 fast in Arizona, “Si Se Puede!” (“Yes We Can”), which have been adopted by activists worldwide.
But my dad was also convinced we have a moral duty to give ourselves selflessly for others in a cause that’s bigger than we are. He said, “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and our own.”
That’s how a man with an eighth grade education who adopted a life of self-imposed poverty nonviolently challenged, and overcame, one of the richest industries in California and in the process inspired millions to social and political activism.
- end -