Cesar Chavez Day – A Bilingual Leader

Cesar Chavez Day is an American national commemorative holiday aimed to celebrate the birth and enduring legacy of the American civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez, on March 31st.

A True Leader

 

“Si se puede” (“Yes we can”) – Motto of the United Farm Workers of America. 

 

Standing up to injustice. Fighting for the rights of those who can’t stand up for themselves. Organizing people under a united cause to be stronger as a group than as individuals. This is what a leader does and this is what Cesar Chavez is known for. 

 

Let’s go back to the year 1965 where we observe hundreds of Filipino American farmworkers are laboring under harsh conditions with little pay, little rights, and little hope of making social change. They boldly began the Delano grape strike against table grape growers in Delano, California, to protest for higher wages and fight against the exploitation of farmworkers. But they needed more support. 

 

Enter Cesar Chavez.

 

Life and Work of Chavez

 

Born in Yuma, Arizona to a Mexican-American family in 1927, he started working as a manual laborer and continued on to join the United States Navy. After leaving the Navy, he got involved in the Community Service Organization where he continually looked for ways to better the lives of the underprivileged. He was able to use his knowledge of both English and Spanish to mediate between groups of people separated by language barriers. 

 

When he heard about the Delano grape strike, Cesar Chavez and his supporters organized the picketers, called for donations and invited activists to join them. Due to this pressure and the attention it was receiving, the grape strike and boycott ended on July 29, 1970, when grape growers signed labor contracts which included timed pay increase, health and other benefits. Contracts between the United Farm Workers of America and grape growers were the first of their kind in agricultural history.

 

Modern Influence

 

The life and legacy of Cesar Chavez has influenced countless people to this day, including Barack Obama who called to make March 31st a national holiday in honor of Chavez. Barack said in 2008,

 

“Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”

 

As we celebrate Cesar Chavez day this year, let’s be bold to stand up for what we believe in and also to teach our children to do the same. 

 

If you’re looking for a language program for your child that has amazing, native-speaking teachers, fun activities, and that teaches culture alongside language, then you should check out Cultural Bytes In Person and Online classes (Spanish, French, and Mandarin). Your children will be saying “Si se puede” before you know it!

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