Public Affairs

Honoring Chavez's Legacy of Service

Dolores Huerta, Chavez's colleague, at the unveiling of a memorial arch at San José State in 2008 honoring the civil rights activist.
Dolores Huerta, Chavez's colleague, at the unveiling of a memorial arch at San José State in 2008 honoring the civil rights activist.

March 30, 2011
By Erik Fallis

CSU campuses and the Chancellor’s Office are closed on March 31 in honor of Cesar Chavez – the late, nonviolent civil rights leader and labor activist. 

However, even with campuses closed the CSU community is still in action.  During the weeks prior to and immediately following March 31, many CSU faculty, staff and students dedicate their time to both service and learning.

Below are examples of programs and activities at 15 of the 23 CSU campuses that exemplify the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning.

CSU Bakersfield is co-hosting a celebration in commemoration of Chavez.  Partners for the festival/carnival, held on April 2, are the Boys and Girls Club of Kern County, the Delores Huerta Foundation and Univision.  The celebration includes an essay and art competition for K-12 students, university student organization booths, the Farmworkers’ Prayer, dancing and music.

CSU Channel Islands students from the Educational Opportunity Program, Latina Workshop Coalition and Multicultural Programs are passing out fresh baked goods with facts about and quotes from Chavez.  This education and awareness event happens on March 30.

CSU Dominguez Hills, on March 24, hosted a film The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle.  The film viewing was arranged by the Multicultural Center as a tribute to Chavez’s commitment to social justice and respect for human dignity.  In addition, the center’s leadership program students go to local area high schools to teach conflict resolution.

Fresno State held three public events featuring United Farm Worker pioneers Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez.  The events culminated at the annual Chavez Garlanding Ceremony in the campus Peace Garden on March 29.  In the spirit of serving others, a blood drive was also run this week.

CSU Fullerton Professor Raymond W. Rast succeeded in getting a 40 acre parcel that played an important role in Chavez’s history designated as a National Historic Landmark.  On Feb. 21, Rast joined with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and Chavez family members to christen the landmark with a plaque.

Humboldt State is making March 31 a “day on.” Service Learning Center interns and staff join forces with Youth Educational Services for a “Serve-a-thon” at the Humboldt Botanical Gardens.

Cal Maritime is enlisting students and the university community to feed the hungry on March 31.  The Cal Maritime Center for Community Engagement is partnering with the First Baptist Church of Vallejo to distribute hot meals and bags of groceries to those in need.

CSU Monterey Bay is on a month-long mission to perform and document 3,000 hours of community service.  From Cesar Chavez to Cinco de Mayo, numerous projects are being coordinated by AmeriCorps, Service Learning and Student Activities.

CSU Northridge service-learning student scholars are spending a full 8-hour day on March 30 in the community gardens that serve several food banks.  This is in addition to the Matador Involvement Center hosting a campus service fair bringing together agencies and volunteers.

CSU San Bernardino hosts the inaugural Inland Empire Quality of Life Summit, which starts on March 31 and includes recognition of the contributions of Chavez toward the advancement of the Latino community.  The two-day summit will focus on regional needs in education, workforce development, healthcare, transportation infrastructure, business and sustainability.  On March 28, the campus also hosted the Second Annual Latino Education and Advocacy Days.

San Diego State holds their annual Cesar Chavez Luncheon on campus on April 8.  Proceeds from the event benefit the Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Scholarship Fund.  The keynote speaker is Francisco J. Urtasun, Director, Corporate and Community Partnerships, Sempra Energy.

San José State students with the Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center, part of the Associated Students, are on an “alternative spring break” at the Navajo Nation, which encompasses 27,000 square miles in three states.  From March 28 through April 1, the students learn about the region and work on community development projects in New Mexico.  On March 24, several campus and community groups held “Dr. King and Cesar Chavez: A Common Legacy.”  The panel focused on how the struggles and movements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez shared common methods and goals towards social justice and equality.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo AmeriCorps is teaming up with Lifebound Leadership and Youth in Action for a service project and educational presentation for March 31.  The event convenes at the Cesar Chavez Nipomo Native Garden where volunteers work in the garden and enjoy a BBQ featuring a speaker describing Chavez's life and his gift of uniting and engaging diverse populations.

Sonoma State's Center for Community Engagement is supporting CalServes very successful community-wide Cesar Chavez Health Fair.

CSU Stanislaus hosts its sixteenth annual Cesar Chavez Memorial Celebration on March 30.  Events include balet folclórico and a commemorative march led by Teatro Los Hijos Del Campo as well as speakers and a poster contest.