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Juan Esparza Rebecca Plevin Daniel Cásarez Olivia Ruiz Irene Rodriguez Cynthia Moreno Community Health Fellowship

Do you really understand the César Chávez Celebration?avatar

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Paul Chávez, at right, watches as people lay flowers at the statue depicting his father, César Chávez, during a ceremony at Fresno State.

I was inspired to hear the words from the son of late-farmworker leader César Estrada Chávez. 
Paul Chávez told students at the Peace Garden on the campus of Fresno State that his father was like everyone else.

He said a person’s wealth is not about money, but what they leave behind. So what does this mean?

If you now work or have ever worked in the fields, you understand. If your parents worked the fields, you may understand. In a time when people cannot even mow their own lawns, consider working an entire day in the heat for low pay and even less respect, then you’ll understand what César Chávez fought so hard for.

Jasmine González holds the American and Mexican flags.

Jasmine González holds the American and Mexican flags.

My parents would wake us up at 4:30 a.m. to get into the wagon (a silver station wagon). My father drove around Selma, Parlier, Reedley, Fowler, Dinuba, Fresno, Pixley, Malaga, and other places, looking for those hand-printed signs, usually on an intersection of a country road, next to a field of Thompson grapes, that simply said, ’11 cents a tray.’ Anything more than this was good.

It was this way, if we wanted school clothes. My parents chipped away at the house payment doing this. It was the best they could do. Yet it was better than some of my friends, whose parents kept the kids out of school the first two weeks. Eddie and Felipe’s parents would contribute the entire familie’s earned income from fieldwork toward the kid’s school clothes.

Students who have never cut their fingers on a grape tray, eaten chorizo burritos while searching for shade in the Valley’s 95-plus degree heat, tied or pruned vines, picked cotten or have been ripped off by a greedy farmer, may not fully understand the Chávez struggle.

Eddie and Felipe attended Fresno State. I don’t know if they finished. But they were part of the Chávez legacy. It’s exactly what Paul spoke about. It’s what César, who Paul says, never made more than $6,000 a year, fought so hard for.

For you students, the next event you MUST attend for extra credit, consider, yes please consider this through your Ray Bans, the real struggle some people have had to make.

Written by Daniel Cásarez

March 31st, 2009 at 10:10 pm

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