Yesterday thousands turned out in the Westside for the 20th Anniversary of the annual Cesar E. Chavez March. Those that didn’t march lined Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard from Avenida Guadalupe Cultural Center to the Alamo, encouraging the marchers on their trek.
It took local civil rights activist Jaime Martinez and longtime Chavez ally seven years of lobbying the San Antonio City Council to rename Durango Boulevard to Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard in 2011. To this day, Jaime still spearheads the annual Chavez March as well as other Chavez related activities.
The 20 year celebration of the legacy of the civil rights activist who with Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association later known as the United Farm Workers Union, continues.
His famous expression, “Si Se Puede,” has become synonymous with the struggle of all workers to receive better working conditions as well as increased wages.
His birthday March 31st is officially a Texas State Holiday. This year for the first time his actual birthday will be celebrated at Fort Sam Houston at the Assembly area where Veterans Day celebrations take place. This event will be a Veterans tribute to his military service.
Chavez served in the Navy for two years during WWII. As a Viet Nam Veteran, I am honored to be the keynote speaker at that tribute to veterans and Cesar Chavez along with other speakers.
Since I have already written my speech I thought it would be appropriate to share just a few of those thoughts today for those who will not be able to attend the tribute this coming Thursday.
- · 89 years ago today, Civil Rights Activist and Navy Veteran Cesar E. Chavez was born near Yuma Arizona
- · Chavez dedicated his life to improving the treatment, pay and working conditions for farm workers
- · In 1942 Chavez quit school in the seventh grade. It would be his final year of formal schooling because he told others he didn’t want his mother to have to work in the fields
- · Chavez enlisted for two years in the Navy at the age of 17
- · In 1973 Chavez received the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefitting the Disadvantaged
- · In 1992, Chavez was awarded the Catholic Church’s Pacem in Terris ward, named after a 1963 encyclical by Pope John XXIII calling all people of good will to secure peace among nations
- · September 8th, 1994 Chavez was presented posthumously the President Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. His widow Helen Chavez accepted the award
- · December 6th, 2006 California Governor Arnold Scharzennegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Chavez into the California Hall of Fame
- · August 9th, 2011 Durango Boulevard in San Antonio officially became Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard
- · Cesar E. Chavez died April 23rd, 1993
Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.