Mark Silva and Don Frederick, Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2008
Cesar Chavez Day.
That’s what Sen. Barack Obama is endorsing: A national holiday in honor of the late, legendary activist for farm-worker rights (1927-1993), pictured here.
Today is Chavez’s birthday—and Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign was first to draw attention to that this morning, with a statement celebrating the 81st anniverary of Chavez’s birth. But the senator from Illinois one-upped the senator from New York in joining the call for a new national holiday to commemorate the father of the United Farm Workers.
“As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago,” Obama said in a statement released by his campaign today. “And we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation.
“That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union. ”
Clinton said, in a statement released today: “Today, I join millions of Americans in commemorating the life of one of our great civil rights leaders, Cesar Chavez. Driven by his strong desire to ensure better quality of life for migrant farm workers across the country, Chavez helped found—along with Dolores Huerta—the United Farm Workers of America, arguably one of the first effective farm workers’ union in the United States.”
Clinton said of Chavez: “Under his leadership—highlighted by nonviolent protest—thousands of farmers across the country were able to secure improved wages and benefits, humane living and working conditions, and better job security. Through his lifetime of service, he has paved the way for many, and provided inspiration for countless others.
“His life and legacy are important for us all to remember,” Obama said. “From his beginnings as a farmworker picking lettuce and beets in the American Southwest, Cesar Chavez rose to help found the United Farm Workers, providing hundreds of thousands of people with better working conditions and the chance to live a better life.
“Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader,” Obama said. “And his cause lives on. ”