April 29, 2017

OPINION: Do I know as much about Cesar Chavez Day as I should?

Cesar Chavez visits Cesar Chavez school in 1974, a year after school opened. He was there to show his support for the new school that was named in his honor. (Photo by Movimiento / Wikimedia Commons)

As a child of two immigrant farm workers, I feel that I should have a wider depth of knowledge than I do regarding Cesar Chavez, one of the most important Mexican Americans.

Of course, I know that Cesar Chavez was a civil rights activist for Latino farm workers and is known for his famous saying, “Si Se Puede,” but that’s about all I can tell you about him.

It doesn’t make me feel better that a quick Google search for “Cesar Chavez Day” only yields lists of stores that are closed and no real reason as to why we observe this holiday in the first place.

Sure, I can spend time reading about Chavez or watching one of the documentaries made about his life, but even growing up in a farm community with a high population of Mexican Americans, I never felt that the curriculum my school imposed focused enough on who Chavez was and what he did.

In school, we often spend a significant time learning about civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. However, much less time is spent learning about Chavez’s efforts as a civil rights leader.

It is important to teach students about Mexican American leaders just as much as other leaders because we deserve to be recognized as prominent members of this country.  We are not only Mexicans, but Americans as well.

Mexican American leaders tend to be underrepresented, so when important leaders such as Chavez are not celebrated enough, we feel as if some Americans will only see us as Mexicans, not as Mexican Americans.

Although it can be overwhelming to learn everything about our own culture as well as more mainstream American culture, we must do our best to learn all that we can about Mexican heritage, not just on Cesar Chavez Day.

So while most may be grateful that Friday classes are cancelled, I’ll be taking this time to learn and understand the significance of Chavez’s accomplishments.

RELATED:  Granddaughter of Cesar Chavez speaks at luncheon dedicated to civil rights activists

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Raul Hernandez

Raul Hernandez is studying Journalism at Sacramento State. He enjoys writing about sports and pop culture. In 10 years, Raul plans to move to Los Angeles or New York where he plans on writing about the latest trends in pop culture such as music, movies, trends, entertainment and sports. Raul always believes that his mind and his taste in style is still stuck in 1992 #90sBabyAllDay. Raul can be reached at [email protected]

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