‘Adelante’ With Chavez Legacy

By Jacqueline Garcia, EGP Staff Writer

Eastside organization leaders gathered last Friday to discuss how their groups are following the example and legacy of labor and civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez, whose birthday is celebrated March 31 as a state holiday and a day of service.

Nonprofit InnerCity Struggles’ second annual “Adelante Breakfast” drew over 100 people — representing labor, civic, health, education, art, and environmental and social justice organizations — to their East Los Angeles office. Chavez, who co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Dolores Huerta, is known for his non-violent tactics when fighting for fair treatment and better pay for farm workers. Since his death, he has become an icon of the labor movement and grass roots organizing.

The focus of the breakfast was on how organizations can collectively move Chavez’ legacy forward, “adelante,” in modern times.

Civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez was honored at the second annual “Adelante Breakfast” in East L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez was honored at the second annual “Adelante Breakfast” in East L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (District 51) said people too often focus on the work Chavez did while he was alive, but forget an important part of the legacy he left behind. “He was a mentor, an organizer and an educator” and you are part of Chavez’ legacy, said Gomez, telling the attendees they must teach future generations how to continue their work.

“[Chavez] didn’t start as a legendary leader, somebody taught him,” Gomez explained.

Lea este artículo en Español: ‘Adelante’ con el Legado de Chávez

The program included an opportunity for participants to share their work in the community and the discussion revealed some of the common strategies organizations use to achieve their goals.

Like Chavez, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, said they are using a non-violent boycott of the El Super grocery chain to put pressure on the company for its “unfair labor practices.” The UFW, under Chavez’s leadership, conducted a national and international boycott of grapes and lettuce to pressure growers to sign a labor agreement with the union on behalf of farm workers.

“We are here to organize and we want things to be fair for everyone in the workforce,” said SEIU 99 delegate Virginia Valverde, inviting the other organizations to join their boycott of El Super.

Juan Castillo-Alvarado, director of Latino Equality Alliance’ (LEA) public education program, said the organization fights every day for the rights of the Latino Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. He said LEA provides a safe space for young people still in the process of “coming out of the closet.” We try to educate the community about the struggle LGBT people face being accepted, problems that if not addressed can lead to mental illness and/or bullying, Castillo-Alvarado said. He said everyone has the right “to be who they are without the fear of being criticized.”

Former Congressman Esteban E. Torres, nationally recognized for his public service and leadership on labor issues, was the breakfast’s featured speaker and spoke of his personal relationship with Chavez.

“I miss my friend, my brother,” remarked Torres, who shared anecdotes about his personal relationship with Chavez and their labor organizing years.

Torres said it’s important for Latinos to continue to honor Chavez’ legacy, in the same way other communities pay tribute to their leaders.

The breakfast’s host, InnerCity Struggle (ICS), says its mission is to build “a powerful and influential movement of youth and families in the Eastside of Los Angeles to promote healthy, safe and nonviolent communities.”

ICS spokesperson Jonathan Perez told EGP the organization uses many of Chavez’ organizing methods and is trying to teach younger generations about his work and legacy.

“We want to promote non-violent organizing” and fight against injustices in our communities, as Chavez did, Perez said.

Torres told EGP he was moved to hear how people, many who were not even born when Chavez was alive and organizing, are aware of his legacy and following his example.

Hopefully this will lead them to make great changes, he said.

“[Young people] should learn that they have the essence to speak for their rights and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

 

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April 2, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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One Response to “‘Adelante’ With Chavez Legacy”

  1. ‘Adelante’ con el Legado de Chávez : Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews on April 2nd, 2015 2:36 pm

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