Chico State will recognize the efforts and sacrifice of activist César Chávez with more than a half dozen events on and off campus beginning this week.
Chico State joins other state universities, schools and offices in honoring Chávez’s birthday and subsequently will be closed on Thursday, March 31. This closure provides students and the Chico community the opportunity to participate in civic engagement inspired by Chávez and the meaning behind his life’s work.
This year’s theme is “Respecting and Honoring César Chávez,” and as in years past, the events will aim to educate about Chávez and his legacy of activism. They also encourage the campus community to reflect upon his achievements and contributions and for Chico State students to participate in civic engagement within their own community.
Yvette Zúñiga, associate director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said that as a daughter of farmworkers, she has seen firsthand the struggle of inhumane working conditions, low wages and feelings of powerlessness—so events surrounding Chávez and his activism are important to her.
“César Chávez and those involved with the movement, like Dolores Huerta, gave people like me hope for a better life. His work is a model for nonviolent resistance and political engagement,” she said. “Honoring his birthday is honoring human rights, and doing service work on his birthday is a reminder that in our community can we make change for a better society.”
Events commemorating César Chávez Day this year begin today with a free screening of the film “César’s Last Fast” in the Bell Memorial Union, Room 203, at 5:30 p.m., presented by Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity. This documentary film narrates the events of 1988 when Chávez began his “Fast for Life,” a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farmworkers, their families, and their communities.
On March 29 from 6–8 p.m., the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center (CCLC) and MEChA will host a Baile at The Hub celebrating the Latinx farmworker community and those who brought their struggles to public consciousness—this is an outstanding opportunity to enjoy some Latinx music and dances. A second Baile celebration will take place on March 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Hub at University Village. Also, on March 30, a time to reflect and learn more about the legacy of Chávez will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Trinity Commons.
As the University reminds students to respectfully honor Chávez on the holiday and to look out for their fellow Wildcats, the Wildcats ROAR series returns March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in Student Services Center (SSC), Room 122. Presented by WellCat Prevention, this peer-led presentation dives into how alcohol affects the body, the signs of alcohol poisoning and what we can do to help a friend in need. Free pizza will be served.
As always, the University’s signature event is ’Cats in the Community. On March 31 at 10 a.m., Chico State students will honor the legacy of Chávez with the annual community service event ’Cats in the Community. Students are encouraged to sign up for this great opportunity to give back to the wider Chico community during this National Day of Service. The event is sponsored by Associated Students’ Community Action Volunteers in Education and those interested in volunteering can pre-register at https://www.givepulse.com/event/281168.
César Chávez Safety Outreach booths will be present in the community on Thursday, March 31 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Booths will be located at the corner of West Second and Ivy Streets (in front of the SSC), at the FSA table at West Third and Ivy Streets and on campus at Sutter Hall near The Hub. Booths will have free water and snacks.
Rounding out the events this year will be a night of Lotería and information about Chávez’s life and work. Snacks and giveaways for students who stop by.
As founder of the National Farm Workers Association in 1962—an organization which eventually became the United Farm Workers of America—Chávez influenced and inspired millions of Americans through his nonviolent tactics in the struggle for improved treatment, better pay and safer working conditions for farm workers. He devoted his life to this work and his legacy is still felt today in other industries outside farming and agriculture.
Additionally, Chávez was instrumental in the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which established collective bargaining rights for farm workers. In 2014, President Barack Obama designated March 31 as César Chávez Day in his honor, urging Americans to use it as a day of service and education, noting, “Let us remember that when we lift each other up, when we speak with one voice, we have the power to build a better world.”
Those who require an accommodation in order to participate in on-campus César Chávez Day events or who have questions about accessibility may contact the Accessibility Resource Center at 530-898-5959.