by Aisha Bowen
Cesár Chávez is one of the most dynamic organizers in the fight for better working conditions for farmers throughout the United States. His organization, the National Farm Workers Association (now called the United Farm Workers), played a key role in improving these conditions through legislation, union contracts, and a host of other efforts. While Chavez supported individuals of all colors and creeds, growing up in a Mexican-American farming community informed his knowledge about this community of farmers specifically. As such, multiple Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) around the country celebrate Cesár Chávez Day on March 31st to commemorate his work. Therefore, today’s MSI Monday Morning Line Up highlights 5 HSIs that celebrate this momentous holiday in honor of this great leader.
1) The University of Texas El Paso (HSI)—El Paso, TX
The University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) hosts an annual César Chávez celebration in conjunction with the Inter-University Program for Latino Research. This week long celebration includes clothing drives, musical performances, documentary screenings, plays, and much more! One of the most dynamic events, however, is the “Annual El Paso César Chávez Marcha.” Learn more about UTEP’s César Chávez celebration here!
2) Citrus College (HSI)—Glendora, CA
Citrus College celebrates the life of César Chávez by giving back. CC students, faculty, and community members participate in the National Chavez Blood Drive Challenge alongside other schools and colleges in the area. Learn more about Citrus College’s blood drive here.
3) California State University, Fresno (HSI)—Fresno, CA
This year will be the 22nd year of Fresno State’s annual César Chávez Garlanding Ceremony and Celebration. This three celebration often includes scholars and activists who have a special connection to Chávez’s United Farm Workers organization. Fresno Sate has played a significant role in leading the Filipino community in partnering with Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Learn more about Fresno State’s history of events here.
4) University of California, Santa Cruz (HSI)—Santa Cruz, CA
UC Santa Cruz has a very unique connection to César Chávez as Chávez stepped foot on this campus in May 1973 for a campus rally. During this rally, Chávez and other United Farm Worker leaders spoke on the current struggles in the movement and thanks all who had helped with the campaign (news.ucsc.edu). As such, UC Santa Cruz hosts an annual convocation In remembrance of Chávez’s work. In recent years, the convocationhas shifted from its usual keynote speaker format “to an interactive panel discussion focusing on organizing and how to bridge diverse social movements” (news.ucsc.edu). Learn more about the history of César Chávez at UC Santa Cruz here!
5) University of New Mexico, Main Campus—Albuquerque, NM
University of New Mexico’s (UNM) College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) hosts a “Farmworker Awareness Week” week commemorating César Chávez. CAMP is a “federally funded program established to identify, recruit, admit, and enroll students from migrant and seasonal farm working backgrounds in higher education. CAMP provides students with academic, social, and financial support to enable the completion of their first year of college” (sust.unm.edu). In recent years, Farmworker Awareness Week events include, celebrating women farmworkers, blood drives, agricultural advocate speakers, and much more. CAMP collaborates with multiple campus and community organizations including the Recuerda a César Chávez Committee, the UNM Graduate Resource Center (GRC), Project of New Mexico Graduates of Color (PNMGC), La Plazita Institute, Albuquerque Food Corps, and many more! Learn more about the College Assistance Migrant Program’s Farmworker Awareness Week here!
Know of other César Chávez celebrations? Share them in the comments below!