Cesar Chavez historic National Monument
Keene, CA –El Monte City Planning Commissioner Jerry Velasco, his friends Mike Gomez and David Damien Figueroa were invited by the White House and Vice President of the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta, to the Dedication Ceremony for the historic Cesar Chavez National Monument.
On October 8, 2012, President Obama led the ceremony.Under the Antiquities Act, meant to protect unique natural and historic features in America, the monument was dedicated on the property known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, which served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers and as the home and workplace of Cesar Chavez from the early 1970s until his death in 1993. Chavez grave site is now part of the monument.
“Who would have known,” said Velasco, “when I last saw Cesar over twenty-three years ago, that his legacy and his inspiration would live on for many generations to come, and that I would be part of this journey. Si se puede!” Velasco and Gomez were two of the 7,000 people present at the event, and they say 3,000 more were turned away due to capacity overflow.
Cesar Chavez played a key role in achieving protections for thousands of farm workers around the country – from establishing minimum wages and health care access to ensuring them drinking water while working the fields and a reduced exposure to dangerous pesticides. “Cesar cared,” said President Obama as he dedicated the monument. “And in his own peaceful, eloquent way, he made other people care, too. A march that started in Delano with a handful of activists – that march ended 300 miles away in Sacramento with a crowd 10,000 strong. A boycott of table grapes that began in California eventually drew 17 million supporters across the country, forcing growers to agree to some of the first farm worker contracts in history. Where there had once been despair, Cesar gave workers a reason to hope.”
Community activists, including one who President Obama introduced as “the great Dolores Huerta,” attended the dedication of the monument. Present also was Chavez’ widow, Helen, who still lives at the location and who, arm to arm with the President, placed a rose at Chavez’ gravesite before the ceremony.
The monument is now open to the public, and is located at 29700 Woodford Tehachapi Road, Keene, CA 93531.