To: Students
From: Trevor Guthrie, Associated Students President, and Sandy Parsons-Ellis, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

As César Chávez Day approaches, we would like to share information about this important holiday and encourage you to honor Chávez’s legacy in a safe, respectable way—that also heeds Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide Stay at Home Order. This is not the time to be gathering. 

Chico State traditionally marks César Chávez Day with group community service projects like ‘Cats in the Community, but such gathering are not possible this year because of COVID-19. However, you can still honor Chávez’s work, perhaps by telling another person about his work and the importance of this holiday, or find a way to volunteer individually using the ideas Community Action Volunteers in Education compiled for safely helping during the pandemic.

César Chávez was a civil rights activist, farm labor leader, and community organizer who championed the cause of equality for Latinx people. Chávez fought for workers’ rights, fair wages, pension benefits, and medical coverage—issues that remain relevant today.

Whatever your plan is for the holiday, please honor Chávez and his legacy in a safe and respectful way.

  • Follow California’s Stay at Home Order. Governor Gavin Newsom’s directive to stay at home unless for essential activities is still in effect. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure.
  • Practice social distancing and preventative measures. Do not gather in groups. If you’re with family, roommates, or other individuals, prevent close contact, clean your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Look out for your fellow Wildcats. It’s on all of us to take care of each other. Remind your friends that ignoring social distancing puts our entire community at risk. If you see something inappropriate or dangerous, speak up and take action if it is safe to do so. 
  • Be a leader, not a follower. Make responsible choices that reflect positively on you and your best self. Wearing costumes that reinforce racism or cultural stereotypes is always damaging and hurtful to your classmates and neighbors, and not in line with Chico State values. Set a good example, and know that your actions reflect on the entire campus community.

Remember, pioneers like Chávez made it possible for students to attend an institution like Chico State, where civic engagement, diversity, activism, and sustainability are foundational elements to our University. In deepening our knowledge of their contributions, we can aspire to follow in their footsteps. 

Did you know…

  • Chávez was born in Yuma, Arizona, on March 31, 1927, and his birthday is a state holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas.
  • A US Navy veteran, Chávez dedicated his life to improving the treatment, pay, and working conditions for farmworkers of all races and nationalities.
  • Chávez worked alongside renowned labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who originated the phrase “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, we can”). She also successfully lobbied for laws protecting farmworker rights including the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act.
  • Chávez and Huerta joined forces with Filipino activist Larry Itliong and others who helped organize the Delano grape strike to form the United Farm Workers union. Mexican American and Filipino American farmworkers together led a five-year-long strike that eventually won pay increases and medical insurance, and established control over toxic pesticides.

You can learn more about Chávez and these important labor figures through courses in departments such as multicultural and gender studiessociologysocial sciencepolitical science and criminal justice, and history

Let us celebrate their contributions with honor and care for one another, and together, we will transform tomorrow.