It’s been 25 years since the passing of labor leader Cesar Chavez, and it’s been 25 years that residents in the Northeast San Fernando Valley have been “Marching for Justice.”
This year’s march will be attended by a long list of notables, including UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta and Arturo Rodriguez who took over the helm of the union following Chavez’ death.
It was Huerta who first led the grito, “Si Se Puede” that became the organization’s lasting motto. It was later used by Barack Obama during his presidential campaign as he motivated the crowd to proclaim, “Yes we can.”
The City of San Fernando was the first to proclaim a day to honor Chavez and the first to support the local march. The city also proudly boasts a Cesar Chavez monument that includes a 100-foot mural that tells his personal story along with a bronze sculpture and 10 statue figures that depict farmworkers.
San Fernando Mayor Sylvia Ballin said the life of Cesar Chavez and farm workers is one she can relate to as she traveled with her parents during her childhood to pick harvests. They lived in farm worker camps that had dirt floor shacks and were without flush toilets.
“Cesar Chavez showed us that you can be the poorest of the poor but you deserve to have a voice,” Ballin said.
Many local march organizers have a long history of family history in the fields and supported the UFW’s boycotts as college students. The UFW (United Farmworkers union) founded by Chavez and Huerta fought for the rights of those who worked in the fields and expanded to fight for environmental justice to fight against the spraying of cancer causing pesticides.
The march and rally is expected to reference many issues that are pressing today, from gun violence in schools and the community to increasing the minimum wage across the country, and immigration reform and DACA.
The Cesar Chavez March for Justice begins at Brand Park in Mission Hills at 10 a.m. and proceeds along Laurel Canyon Boulevard to Ritchie Valens Park in Pacoima.