The United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez have been in the news a lot in the last week.




President Obama has officially proclaimed Saturday March 31st, 2012 “CESAR CHAVEZ DAY.”

One of our Nation’s great civil rights leaders, Cesar Estrada Chavez came of age as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the injustice that pervaded fields and vineyards across California. Facing discrimination, poverty, and dangerous working conditions, laborers toiled for little pay and without access to even the most basic necessities. Yet amidst hardship and abuse, Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change — the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose. Today, we celebrate his courage, reflect on his lifetime of advocacy, and recognize the power in each of us to lift up lives and pursue social justice.

On the 85th anniversary of Cesar Chavez’s birth, we are reminded of what we can accomplish when we recognize our common humanity. He told us, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” As we honor his broad ambitions and expansive vision, let us pledge to stand forever on the side of equal opportunity and justice for all.

With the Secretary of Labor and Agriculture present, the Department of Labor inducted a number of “Pioneers of UFW” into the Hall of Honor and officially named the auditorium in the Department of Labor building the “Cesar Chavez Memorial Auditorium.”

The picture above is one of my favorites – Chavez and Dorothy Day (with Coretta Scott King) – two heroes of Catholic social justice, or as the USCCB website calls them “champions of life and dignity.” So how can we truly honor the legacy of Chavez?

By supporting the UFW fight against dangerous pesticides and the Farmworker Safety Act of 2012. 

To learn more: See Safety for those who feed us (before the California legislature now). This is of particular concern as the summer approaches – and dangerous heat and working conditions without protection of shade and water coolers.