It began with a simple dream of a small group of resolute mothers discussing community problems in a one-room apartment in the Segundo Barrio during the 1960s. Through stiff determination and unflinching courage, the “Mothers of La Fe” cobbled together a non-profit organization to empower families immersed in poverty, unemployment, lack of health care and gang violence. Since that day more than four decades ago, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe has helped countless families, many of them recent immigrants to El Paso, resulting in the empowerment of a predominantly Latino community. Segundo Barrio, located south of downtown El Paso near the U.S.-Mexico border, is the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood, housing a community deeply rooted in Mexican culture. “I have always said that all the people in La Fe are my second home,” said Esperanza Tijerina, who attends citizenship classes and English at the La Fe Culture and Technology community center and is preparing to apply for U.S. citizenship.
EL PASO − Every year on Cesar Chavez Day, the Centro de los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos holds a march in downtown El Paso to honor the man who started the movement for justice and dignity of farmworkers, La Causa. This year’s rally was the typical gathering of social activists, community leaders, students, farmworkers and artists. But what set this year’s rally apart from the rest was this year it was also a victory lap. In January, the Faculty Senate at the University of Texas at El Paso voted to remove Cesar Chavez Day as an official, observed school holiday. Through the leadership of student organizations and the community, the holiday was reinstated when the pressure forced the Senate to re-assess their decision.
EL PASO — César Chávez was buried — to his wishes — in a plain pine coffin built by his brother, Richard. This was a simple, even selfless request from one of the most influential and celebrated figures in American history. It spoke to Chávez’s humility in his struggle for workers’ rights: to be remembered as a fellow soldier and not as a decorated leader or a messiah. The death of the figurehead meant a new life for the cause, La Causa became Nuestra Causa. The man would have celebrated 84 years of life this year.
EL PASO – On a warm, windy March afternoon, the inhabitants of one of El Paso’s most rustic and historic neighborhoods gathered for a carnival held in honor of Cesar Chavez. Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe held a carnival for the famed social justice leader on the grounds of La Fe Preparatory School on Saturday the 26th of March. Hundreds were in attendance, many of them residents of the Segundo Barrio, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. “We need to keep the legacy of Cesar Chavez alive,” says John Estrada, who is a member of the board of directors at La Fe. “And this is one of the ways we do it, through Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe.”
The board of directors of La Fe have supported this event for over 10 years, with the event taking place on the elementary school grounds for the past three years.
EL PASO – The aroma of freshly waxed lowriders saturated the Riverside High School parking lot as car clubs harkening back to their Chicano roots came together to honk and holler and rock and bounce. Hundreds of people enjoyed the nacho stands and the Mexican bands as they marveled at the customized cars remodeled into a homage to Chicano history, part of a series of celebrations in March honoring the memory of César Chávez. Radio El Paso Community College broadcast the festivities. The César Chávez Celebration Car Show hosted by the Riverside Youth Activists and the Cultural Artists United for Social Change showcased vehicles of all different types brought to the meet by different car clubs from El Paso. Wikked Customs Car Club started eight months ago by siblings, Adrienne Novotny, 25, and J.R. Maldonado, 19, proudly showcased three of the cars — a 1994 Camaro, a 1989 Firebird and a Marvin the Martian Themed 2004 Mazda RX8, all from Wikked Customs.
“Us being here today is about showing support to the public, being together and having fun,” said Novotny, co-president of Wikked Customs.
Not only was the car show held in honor of Cesar Chavez, it was also meant to raise money for Riverside High School.
March 31 declared a ‘no classes’ day
EL PASO, Texas — After several letters of protest, a rally and march to the President’s Office and a Gold Nugget recipient returning his award, Cesar Chavez Day is back as a “no classes” day only for this year. At their monthly meeting Feb. 8, the Faculty Senate voted in favor of reinstating Cesar Chavez Day and Spring Study Day as holidays for students. Last November, the same entity removed both dates from the school’s calendar to meet a requirement by the state legislature that mandated them to choose 12 staff holidays per academic year. The reinstatement of the holiday was announced through an e-mail sent by the President’s Office, which included a statement from UTEP President Diana Natalicio.
ELPASO, Texas — A decision to remove César Chavez Day as an observed school holiday taken by the University of Texas at El Paso Faculty Senate touched a nerve at this Hispanic-majority institution. “We were under pressure to make a quick decision,” said Faculty Senate President Dr. Carl S. Lieb, a professor of biology. The vote on November 9 by the faculty Catalog and Calendar Committee, followed by a unanimous vote by the senate, was in response to a Texas State Legislature cost-cutting directive to remove two holidays from the school’s schedule. “The first recommendation to come was to take away the Spring Study Day and Cesar Chavez Day, or (to) take one of the existing staff holidays during the winter break,” Lieb said. Spring Study Day, a faculty holiday on the Friday of Spring Break also was eliminated.
We can choose to use our lives for others to bring about a better and more just world for our children. People who make that choice will know hardship and sacrifice. But if you give yourself totally to the non-violence struggle for peace and justice, you also find that people give you their hearts, and you will never go hungry and never be alone. And in giving of yourself, you will discover a whole new life full of meaning and love. César Chávez, Founder, United Farm Workers of America (UFW)
March 31, 1927 – April 22, 1993
EL PASO, Texas — Upon my return to Texas as a young man after completing my Naval duty, I began to hear stories about César Chávez. In spring 1966, Archbishop Robert Lucy of San Antonio appointed me to head the Bishop’s Committee for the Spanish Speaking and to help the melon strikers in Rio Grande City, Starr County, in South Texas. Although I would not meet César personally until 1985, during his work to eliminate dangerous pesticides, his vision for justice and his leadership of the United Farmworkers of America in the 1960s and 1970s strongly influenced my community activism within the Chicano Movement. My personal experience
Starr County rural communities were the most impoverished in the United States. I organized food and clothing drives in San Antonio and Austin for the striking farmworkers there.
EL PASO, Texas — César Chávez was a Chicano leader who led the fight in a proud movement in the 1960’s for the rights and dignity of migrant farm workers. He fought so they would receive better treatment and better pay for their hard labor in the fields. By organizing the United Farm Worker and using peaceful protest as a tool for change Chávez gave voice to an entire minority in what can be seen as American free speech at its finest. To the Texas State Board of Education, however, Chávez isn’t worth putting in the high school history books. “Personally I believe that not mentioning him [Chávez] would be taking away the identity of people who really struggled and managed to shape the political landscape.
EL PASO, Texas — Waving signs that read “La Lucha Continúa” and “Thank a Farm Worker Today,” hundreds of people marched in honor of the late civil rights activist César Chávez and in protest of the recent Arizona immigration law. “Farm workers rights should be respected, because they are the ones bringing food to the tables,” said 60-year-old Silvestre Galván, who fought alongside Chávez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, during the 1973 grape strikes in Delano, California. Carlos Marentes, director of the Border Farm Workers Center said the annual income of a field worker is about $6,000, far below the federal poverty guidelines of an annual income of $10,000 per person. Marentes pointed out the hazardous working conditions such as exposure to pesticides that harm the health of agriculture workers. “In the crops of chile, particularly in the Luna County, New Mexico, where many of these laborers go to work, more and more toxic chemicals are being used and as a result they have more diseases, especially in the skin of workers,” Marentes said.