President Barack Obama is paying homage to the farmworker movement by establishing the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument on behalf of its civil rights leader, Cesar Chavez.
Chavez’s grave site and California home called Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace) has been designated as the national Cesar Chavez monument. The property served as Chavez’s national headquarters and home since the 1970s until his death in 1993.
Rurally located in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California, the property serves as a historical reminder of the struggles Chavez endured side-by-side Dolores Huerta when they co-founded the United Farmworkers of America.
“Cesar Chavez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” said President Obama in a statement. “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history, and by designating it a national monument, Chavez’s legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.”
Obama is expected to be in Keene, California next week and on Oct 8., he will make the tribute official. He is also arriving a few days before Hispanic Heritage month officially culminates on Oct. 15.
From achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country to provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, Chavez played an instrumental role. He also helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides and established basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers.
Chavez preached non-violence and civil disobedience. Through his tactics growers were forced to recognize the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida. Chavez’s legacy continues to this day muttered through the words of a famous slogan: Si se Puede.
Cesar Chavez monument a tribute to the activist
The presidential campaign has also enjoyed wide support with the help of grassroots movements such as the UFW and icons like Huerta to promote get-out-the vote initiatives in the Latino community. With days shy before the election, the move can only add to Obama’s favorability ratings.
Under the Antiquities Act, which was passed in 1906 by Congress, the president is allowed to use executive order to restrict the use of public land to be owned by the federal government. The location will also serve as a visitor’s center containing Cesar Chavez’s office as well as the UFW legal aid offices, the home of Cesar and Helen Chavez, the Chavez Memorial Garden containing Chavez’s grave site, and additional buildings and structures at the La Paz campus.
The Cesar Chavez monument was years in the making, according to a White House press release.