Students celebrate life of Cesar Chavez

Many are thrilled to receive an extra day off from school to get a head start on their spring vacation, but this Friday is not just another day off. It’s set aside to honor a man who changed the lives of farm workers.

César E. Chávez co-founded the United Farm Workers, a union that aimed to get laws set in place so that farm workers would not be abused.

Workers were paid very little, and simple things such as water and restroom breaks were prohibited. These conditions resulted in many illnesses and deaths of people who were willing to work hard in order to have better lives for themselves and their children.

Norma Lara, a nursing and Chicano and Latin American Studies major, is appreciative of the dedication Chávez had to improving the lives of farm workers.

Her parents were farm workers when she was young, and her grandparents were a part of the Bracero Program, which allowed Mexican farm workers to work in the fields of this country.

“I got to meet César Chávez when I was little,� Lara said. “It didn’t seem significant at the moment, but I learned that he was an extraordinary man and that his movement was significant because it’s where I came from.�

Sarina De La Rosa, a sociology and Chicano and Latin American Studies major and MEChA member, said Chavez was a man who taught others that they did not have to be taken advantage of.

“He was a voice for those that were afraid to have a voice,� De La Rosa said.

He also inspired the youth to get an education so that they would not have to experience what their parents did.

“César Chávez opened the door for a lot of students to go to school and go beyond the fields,� De La Rosa said.

The activities that will be held in honor of Chavez include poetry readings, art exhibits and various student presentations.

Wednesday’s “Flor y Canto Night: ‘When Dreams Become Arte,’� includes poetry and an art exhibit put on by Fresno State students.

A large celebration will be held Thursday that includes entertainment, an altar display, a garlanding ceremony and the announcement of the poetry and essay contest winners.

Friday, some students will be traveling to the National Chávez Center to visit Chávez burial site.

Ambar Alvarez, Trabajadores de la Raza president, is excited about the turnout for these events.

“I have a deep appreciation for what he’s done,� Alvarez said. “I admire the strength and courage it took for him to do that and I’m glad to give him the celebration he deserves.�

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