Commemorating the life of César Chávez

March 31, 2010

Due to a technical problem, regrettably this message was delayed from its original sending date of Monday, March 29, 2010.

To: Campus Community
From: Paul J. Zingg, President
Subj: Commemorating the life of César Chávez

This time of year we observe César Chávez Day and honor the life, lessons and accomplishments of the famed labor leader and human rights activist. March 31, the day Chávez was born, was designated a state holiday in 2000 and all state offices and school campuses are closed on that day.

It has now been 17 years since César Chávez’s death, and consequently many younger students have no memory of his incredible life story and the hardships he faced to help migrant farm workers. He is as much a paragon of social change through nonviolence as Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. He acted out of the same deeply held, spiritually based convictions about justice, fairness and the unassailable dignity of each person. César Chávez also knew how vital education was in carrying out the promise of democracy and practice of citizenship, saying, “The end of all education should surely be service to others.” Many universities, including Chico State, take that viewpoint to heart and make service a central focus of their mission and vision. The service he provided to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised in California may be César Chávez’s chief legacy, but his actions and words are an enduring gift to all of us.

Our campus was further reminded of the legacy of Cesar Chavez with recent visits by two of his closest colleagues, Dolores Huerta and Marc Grossman.  Their message that the struggle for human dignity and social justice is both noble and ongoing is worth our reflection and re-dedication on this day.