Monday, March 30, 2015

Happy César Chávez Day

Denver recently unveiled a new statue in honor of César Chávez, just in time for César Chávez Day, which is officially celebrated here in Colorado on March 31.

Since César Chávez Day is not yet a nationally recognized holiday (I think it's only official in Colorado, Texas and California) I figured I might do a quick post about it for folks who might not know who he was.

César Chávez was an American farm worker, labor organizer and civil rights activist who championed the cause of the migrant farm workers. He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the National Farm Workers Union. Even though the union has faltered in the years since his death in 1993 (and honestly, what unions haven't been struggling in today's political climate) Chávez is widely credited for bringing the plight of the farm workers into the public eye.

The plight, of course, continues. I recently saw an excellent documentary on Netflix called Food Chains which is an eye opening look at the exploitation and suffering that puts food on the tables of most Americans. Here's the trailer:

When I think of the many problems caused by big agriculture, my mind generally goes to environmental issues like pesticides, soil erosion, GMO crops, water usage issues and the like. It's easy to forget that the system also has a very real human cost as well.

I don't have all the answers here, and I'm not really sure what individuals can do to bring about the change that's needed, but I do think this is all another excellent reason to support local small scale food production where workers are treated fairly. And if nothing else, I think it's important to remember and recognize that all of the beautiful fresh produce that is so readily available in our grocery stores was brought to us by people whom society has largely forgotten.

Anyhow, here's a song by Tish Hinojosa, one of my very favorite artists, that takes a look at the issue from a more personal point of view.

So the next time you sit down to enjoy some fresh produce with your meal, take a small moment to give thanks to the people who made it possible for you, and if you'd like to sign a petition to make César Chávez Day a national holiday and help bring further attention to this issue, you can do so here.

Happy César Chávez Day, Y'all!


  1. Thanks for posting this! Despite being on the management side of the fence right now at work, I am interested in labour history.

    1. In that case, the documentary is really worth the watch - it shows how we've been exploiting folks for the sake of manual labor for literally hundreds of years.

  2. Big or small, farming is very hard work and people definitely need to understand where their food comes from. This is a good reminder that we need to be aware food just doesn't magically appear in the grocery store.

    1. Having spent about 3 hours digging in my garden today, I have to say that is absolutely true! It's so easy to forget when food is so readily available.

  3. On a related note, farm workers on strawberry farms in Mexico . . .

  4. We don't celebrate César Chávez Day but it's a good one to mention. I admire nonviolent people who can rally together a group and really make an impact :)


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