Cesar Chavez Day, It would be Cesar Chavezâ€™s 85th birthday. Every year, his holiday is an opportunity for us to reflect on his legacy. But Cesarâ€™s legacy is not just the thousands of lives he helped change, itâ€™s also values that he stood for, and reminds us of our obligation to continue to champion those values wherever they are threatened, even today. We honor Cesarâ€™s legacy every day we fight for justice for workers, when we march with them for change. That is why I will spend this Cesar Chavez Day at Pomona College, standing side by side with that collegeâ€™s dining hall workers.
Through organizing, strikes, and boycotts with the United Farm Workers, men and women stepped out of the shadows and into the moral reckoning of an entire nation. The fact that the food we eat was harvested with suffering, transformed how Americans think about food. The movement work of the â€™60s and â€™70s continues to resound today in fields, supermarkets, and kitchens, as well as on the tables of millions of Americans.
Farm workers made gains through bravery, courage and solidarity. Like generations of immigrant workers who came before, the farm workers laid claim to the American Dream by founding a union of their own, to secure in a contract, fair wages, safe working conditions, and respect for their very humanity. And like those previous generations of workers who organized, the farm workersâ€™ status as immigrants to this country was a vulnerability that growers used to intimidate, terrorize and divide them, just as textile mill owners had done the same to the men, women and children from Italy and Eastern Europe who they once relied on to be docile, silent and unwilling to protest.