Sunday, March 31, 2013
Detail from a mural on a public school wall in the San Francisco Mission district.
In California, Texas and Colorado, March 31, the birthday of the United Farm Workers Union co-founder Cesar Chavez, is a state holiday. Especially among Mexican Americans, Chavez -- the labor leader, not the boxer -- is revered for demonstrating that poor and humble people could rise up against agribusiness and Anglos prejudices. He taught pride -- and organizing for justice.
The union Chavez founded is campaigning to make the date a national holiday.
For a contemporary appreciation of Chavez's legacy, one that acknowledges some elements that do not stand the test of time, see this discussion by Maegan Ortiz.
In this moment when it appears that full inclusion of gay and lesbian people as complete citizens is rapidly approaching, we should remember that Cesar Chavez was a very early supporter of gay civil rights. I know; I heard him acknowledge us among a list of people struggling for fuller freedom at a rally concluding a farm worker march to Modesto in 1975. At the 1987 Gay and Lesbian National March on Washington, he was in the first rank, helping to carry the lead banner.
Because the Chavez commemoration fell on Easter Sunday this year, actual observances are all over the lot -- some offices closed for a day last week; the annual Mission District parade and 24th Street fair in San Francisco has been moved to April 20.