On Monday March 24th a United Farm Workers (UFW) flag was raised, for the third year in a row, at San Jose’s City Hall in remembrance and solidarity of not only Cesar Chavez, one of the most well-known civil rights activists, but of the countless supporters and those interested in the future of the beliefs and goals of the Farm Worker movement. Not only did the support come from the community and Chavez’s own family, but from congress people and the entire chair of San José as well.
Mayor Chuck Reed opened up the ceremony by divulging the local history of San Jose, California’s first capitol. Its initial workforce compromised of farmers and provided food for the presidios to the North. Its history is rooted with farming and the diverse generations that came to work on the fields, much like in the southern California regions that Chavez and the UFW challenged to bring about just work environments.
Cesar Chavez’s efforts to combat the inequality between the field workers and their employers became a philosophy of the civil rights movement as a whole, one which was built upon the teachings of peers like Gandhi and Fred Ross, and for those who used Chavez’s work after, like Martin Luther King Jr. Chavez’s views on workers reform spread throughout the country, the force he helped create gained so much momentum it forced change within the people of this country, ultimately bringing a positive change to those who labored in the fields.
This change was reflected in the speakers at City Hall, as representatives from the Mexican Consulate, NAACP, the many districts of the city, and communities of San Jose, gathered and shared their remarks on the prolific impact of Chavez’s work, and how important it was that the city honored and continued teaching his philosophies, in schools and within the roots of the city, now and into the future.
The four members of the guard held the 4 flags to go up at City Hall: the American, California, San José, and UFW flags. The City Hall memorandum describes the flag as “…featuring the black eagle, which represents the plight of farm workers; the red background, which symbolizes the union members’ hard work and sacrifice; and the white circle signifying the people’s hope and aspirations. The UFW flag became a national symbol, not only for the Farm Workers union, but for the Mexican American civil rights movement and other cause”. On behalf of the board of supervisors, Dave Cortese presented a resolution to four members of the Chavez family for their service with UFW. A planned breakfast on Monday March 31 will further honor, as Barbara Chavez put it, “this great American hero”.
The biopic film based on Cesar Chavez’s life, “Cesar Chavez”, premieres nationwide on March 28th, 2014.