NHLA Press Releases

Coalition of 30 Hispanic Organizations Lauds President Obama for Establishing the César E. Chávez National Monument

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of the thirty leading Hispanic organizations in the nation, commends President Obama for announcing the establishment of the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California. Late yesterday, the White House announced that President Obama will employ the Antiquities Act to establish the monument at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz, or La Paz—a location long recognized for its deep and unyielding link to civil rights leader César Estrada Chávez. NHLA commends the President for recognizing the substantial and lasting impact that César E. Chávez had for Latinos and farm workers and taking sorely needed steps to acknowledge the importance of Chávez to the Latino and organizing communities.

Hector E. Sanchez, Executive Director of LCLA, stated: “César E. Chávez embodied the overarching principal that individuals can accomplish more as a community than they ever could on their own. Chávez’s organizing efforts provided a solid foundation for unions and farmworkers to come together and better their working conditions. The United States has, sadly, a history of failing to recognize the contributions by members of the Latino community, such as Chávez, that make this country great. The establishment of the César E. Chávez memorial is a significant first step toward fully recognizing the critical contributions that Latinos have made to this country’s cultural diversity and economic growth.”

José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, stated: “Generations of Hispanic-Americans have embodied the spirit of social justice, equality, and community that César Chávez represented. César’s legacy of selfless service on behalf of farm workers and all disenfranchised peoples is so significant that it is now, finally, rightly venerated as part of the American story. César was an American hero and soon Hispanics and all Americans can pay tribute to his great legacy at a national monument at La Paz.”

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, stated: "Establishing this National Monument is an important step toward rectifying the too-frequent exclusion of Latino accomplishments from the recognized roster of noteworthy American contributions. César Chavéz is a true American hero, and this step will ensure that the memory of his contributions continues long into the future."

Alma Morales Riojas, President and CEO of MANA, A National Latina Organization, stated: “An old proverb says that ‘there is nothing as strong as gentleness’ and César Chávez epitomizes it. With his humble leadership Chávez led a movement that changed our lives by teaching us the value of farm workers. His courage is worthy of the highest recognition our country has to offer."

Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund, stated: “The NALEO Educational Fund is pleased to see the extraordinary contributions of civil rights icon César E. Chávez memorialized through the establishment of a National Monument in his honor. Our organization carries on his legacy today by working to ensure that the Latino community is heard at the ballot box and that full Latino political participation is secured in 2012 and beyond.”

Alex Nogales, NHMC President & CEO, stated: "As one who picked up the fruits and vegetables in the hot and dusty California fields, it is a source of great pride to have our President acknowledge the contributions of César E. Chávez, a man who radically changed the terrible working conditions of farm laborers in California and around the nation."

Vilma Colom, National President, National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc., stated: “César E. Chávez, served as an electrifying leader that changed the battleground of farm worker's rights and the labor movement in all aspects of life. He served as a mentor, role model, and a sponsor to countless individuals. Today we strive to continue his legacy to assure our community gets its fair share of opportunities. Through our united and collaborative efforts we can move mountains.”

Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr., President of USHLI, stated: “USHLI commends President Obama for honoring César Chávez with a national monument recognizing his contribution to the farm and labor movements. It was my privilege to know César Chávez personally and to be considered a friend. His contributions to American society and the cause of social and economic justice are timeless. This is a very appropriate and well-deserved way to honor his memory and we urge all Americans to celebrate this dedication. César Chávez stirred the conscience of the nation with his gentle but firm actions on behalf of farmworkers. This monument will ensure that his name, his cause and his contributions will never be forgotten.”

David Ferreira, Executive Director of National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, stated: “The César Chávez memorial will not only honor the life and legacy of one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our community, it will stand as a representation of all the progress we as a Hispanic community have made through hard work, sacrifice, and a willingness to stand up for what is right. César Chávez was a patriarch for voicing the struggles and unequal treatment of Latino workers. For this reason, it is vital for America to be aware and honor the struggles of the past, for they were the foundation of today. I hope this memorial will inspire future generations and teach them about the past in order to improve our future.”

The National Park Service, the National Chávez Center, and the César E. Chávez Foundation will jointly manage the monument, which will span 105 acres and include a visitor’s center, the UFW legal aid offices, and the Chávez Memorial Garden which includes Chávez’s grave site.

Established in 1991, The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) brings together Hispanic leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. For more information, please visit www.nationalhispanicleadership.org.

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