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Cesar Chavez to be honored with national monument

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Cesar Chavez to be honored with national monument

  • Chavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.
    Joel Levine via WikipediaChavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.
  • Chavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.
    Joel Levine via WikipediaChavez, in a cropped and retouched 1974 photo.

César Chávez, the late United Farm Workers founder, will be honored next week with a national monument named for him, the White House announced Monday. The César E. Chávez National Monument will be established at the UFW's historic headquarters in California.

The monument—to be designated under the Antiquities Act— will include the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz, in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California.

The site served as the headquarters of the UFW, as well as the home Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until the Latino activist's death in 1993. Chávez' grave site on the property will also be part of the monument.

"César Chávez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere," said President Obama in a news release.

"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, Chávez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come," Obama said.

From the White House:

Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country, from provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, to steps that helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides, to helping to establish basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers.

The National Chávez Center, in consultation with the United Farm Workers of America, the César Chávez Foundation and members of César Chávez’s family, offered to donate certain properties at La Paz to the federal government for the purpose of establishing a national monument commemorating César E. Chávez and the farmworker movement. This designation will represent the culmination of a process that has been underway for several years.

The César E. Chávez National Monument will encompass property that includes a Visitors’ Center containing César Chávez’s office as well as the UFW legal aid offices, the home of César and Helen Chávez, the Chávez Memorial Garden containing Chavez’s grave site, and additional buildings and structures at the La Paz campus.

The monument, which will be managed by the National Park Service in consultation with the National Chávez Center and the César Chávez Foundation, will be the fourth National Monument designated by President Obama using the Antiquities Act.   He previously designated Fort Monroe National Monument in Virginia, a former Army post integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military; Fort Ord National Monument in California, a former military base that is a world-class destination for outdoor recreation; and Chimney Rock, which is located in the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado, and offers a spectacular landscape rich in history and Native American culture. First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado's Canyons of the Ancients.

In 2011, Obama declared March 31 to be César Chávez Day, in honor of the crusading founder of the United Farm Workers.

Also in 2011, the Navy named a Lewis and Clark-class supply ship after Chávez, who joined the Navy when he was just 17 years old and served during WWII.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Chavez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993) was, along with Dolores Huerta, one of the best-known leaders of the Hispanic civil rights movement in the 1960s. Chavez was born in San Luis, Ariz.

Modeling himself on Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., he called on Hispanics to "Make a solemn promise: to enjoy our rightful part of the riches of this land, to throw off the yoke of being considered as agricultural implements or slaves. We are free men and we demand justice."

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