March 26, 2004

César Chávez Day
March 31, 2004

By U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

On March 31, we will celebrate the 77th birthday of a great American, the late labor leader Cesar E. Chávez. Millions of Americans are still inspired by his immortal motto: “Si, se puede - Yes, we can.” César’s positive attitude, indomitable spirit, and tireless efforts helped California farm workers win union representation and fair labor contracts after years of struggle.

Born on March 31, 1927, César Chávez began his life on a small farm near Yuma, Arizona. When his family lost the farm during the Great Depression and moved to California, César at age 10 became a migrant farm worker, laboring in fields and vineyards.

César Chávez’s early experiences gave him the determination to create an organization to ensure protections for farm workers. This organization developed into the United Farm Workers of America, the largest farm workers union in U.S. history. As union president, Chávez worked to promote fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and decent working conditions. Thanks to his leadership, while the fight for fairness and justice continues, thousands of farm workers today are able to live their lives with respect, dignity, and a decent wage.

In this important election year, participating in the democratic process is an excellent way to honor César Chávez’s memory and legacy. Chávez once said, “We don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.” In other words, we don’t just get liberty, justice, equality, and opportunity handed to us - we have to engage in the struggle for liberty, justice, equality, and opportunity.

Su voto es su voz - your vote is your voice. If we all speak up loud and clear, we can build a stronger democracy and a stronger nation where every voice is heard.

As we celebrate César Chávez’s birthday, let us always remember his call for unity, equality, and justice for all Americans. Sí, se puede.

For more on César Chávez and his legacy, please visit my special webpage at <http://boxer.senate.gov/Chavez>

Return to the Frontpage