Protest Made Over Cesar Chavez

By Joshua Manly

As many students enjoyed their Friday off to celebrate the
memory and work of Cesar Chavez, students throughout the Los
Angeles Unified School District walked out of schools to protest
the fact that Cesar Chavez Day is not recognized by the state as a
holiday. According to local news reports more than 650 students
walked off of 15 campuses to join a march that began at East Los
Angeles College.

“In my opinion, I think [Chavez’s memory] is better served if
you are in class because I think if you are walking out it gets
more attention,” said Jennifer Vargas, program coordinator for
Cesar E. Chavez Center for Higher Education. “While it gets more
attention it is better when you are in class learning about the
impact they made, which has a greater impact on things.”

Last year the march was much larger, numbering more than 40,000
protestors in marches that blocked off entire streets and
freeways.

Some educators and politicians believed that the best way to
honor the memory of Chavez, who fought for the rights of farm
workers and created the National Farm Workers Association, was to
stay in the classroom.

“I think our kids should stay in school,” said Los Angeles Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa, who was voted in to office with strong
support from Latino communities. “I believe we can get a lot more
information about Cesar Chavez and the contribution that he made to
this great country by going to school, by learning about those
contributions.”

This protest marks the second such attempt at getting school
districts across California to recognize the immigrant worker
champion’s birthday as a holiday. Though many government employees
had the day off, school districts are given the choice to recognize
such holidays. For some school districts that did take the day off,
such as districts in Oakland and San Francisco, measures such as an
extra day of school in the academic year and costs of up to
$200,000 for non-governmental employees were needed to
compensate.

Many protestors felt it was unfair for Chavez to receive the
same recognition in the state where much of his battling
occurred.

The march included many protestors holding Mexican flags and
shouting for reform in the field of illegal immigrants with bills
on the floor of the California Senate aiming to offer driver only
licenses and creating new offices for immigrants.

The Cesar E. Chavez Center holds seminars as well as information
assemblies at local schools to raise awareness of Chavez outside of
the normal trivia.

“We bring in kids from surrounding schools and educate them on
the things he did,” said Vargas. “The students talk about how
college changed our life, we also do a lot of stuff with the United
Farm Workers Association such as school supply drives and
fundraisers during the cold winter freezes.”

Chavez worked throughout his life to better the lives of
immigrant farm workers who traveled across the Southwest to get
jobs harvesting crops such as fruit and other produce. Creating the
National Farm Workers Association to protect immigrants from the
harsh working environments and extremely low pay they endured
throughout.

Joshua Manly can be reached by e-mail at
managingeditor@thepolypost.com or by phone at (909) 869-4713.

Protest Made Over Cesar Chavez

Protest Made Over Cesar Chavez

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