California Democrats Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Raul Ruiz have introduced legislation to create a multi-state national park honoring Cesar Chavez, one day before the state holiday commemorating the Latino civil rights leader.
The proposal would preserve several sites associated with Chavez and his legacy in California and Arizona to form the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park. The sites would include an existing Chavez monument at the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix, Arizona. In California, it would include the monument at Keene in Kern County, Forty Acres in Delano and McDonnell Hall in San Jose.
The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Interior to complete a general management plan for the park within three years and honor the 300-mile farmworker march route between Delano and Sacramento in 1966.
“Establishing the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park will pay proper homage to Chávez’s tireless work for the dignity, respect, and equal treatment of farmworkers,” said Padilla, in a news release. “Our National Park System tells the story of our nation and preserves the people and movements that we value as Americans. Yet our park system does not yet adequately preserve the full culture and diverse legacy of all Americans.”
Every March 31 since 2001, California celebrates Cesar Chavez Day. The holiday falls on the labor leader’s birthday. In 2012, then-President Barack Obama established the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene. Two years later, Obama proclaimed March 31 a U.S. federal commemorative holiday as well.
“With introduction of the bill coming on the anniversary of my father’s birth, it would share with Americans from all walks of life what transformational leaders and activists could achieve in the never-ending struggle for civil rights and social justice,” said Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez.
Chavez is widely recognized as a labor and civil rights leader who fought for farmworkers to have better pay and working conditions. In the 1960s, he co-founded the United Farm Workers alongside Dolores Huerta.
‘We welcome this legislation, which will help preserve and promote Cesar Chavez’s story and example for future generations,” said Antonio De Loera-Brust, communications director for UFW.