The City of Palm Springs celebrated the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez.
“He believed that they can take on the biggest and most powerful industry in the state and prevail,” said Paul Chavez, the son of Cesar Chavez and President of the Cesar Chavez foundation, who was among the guest speakers at the inaugural City of Palm Springs Cesar E. Chavez Breakfast.
Students from Cesar Chavez Elementary, the first school in the state to be named after the social justice leader, performed traditional Ballet Folklorico for the dozens gathered to honor Chavez at the Palm Springs Pavilion.
Paul says the event was meaningful because the farm workers’ rights movement his father started in the 1950s has roots in the Coachella Valley, “We’re so happy to be here because you know the Coachella Valley has an important role in the history of the farm worker movement you know it was where the grape strike of Delano really started.”
Clementina Olloque gave a powerful account of her time fighting alongside Chavez. She says she was arrested and beaten several times during the strikes.
Olloque says people must never forget the impact Chavez had on so many lives, “The privileges that we got by working with Cesar and that Cesar fought for us it was that we had clean water to drink in the fields, we had 10 minute breaks, we had a place to, a toilet, and unemployment, all these benefits that we got from him for us they were very important but yet I still fight for the rights of the farm workers to keep the legacy of Cesar going.”
Ricardo Lara, the state insurance commissioner was moved by her story, saying it’s important to remember the important role women played in the movement, “The day might be named Cesar Chavez day but it really took an entire community.”
For Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, this day is personal, “My mom worked in the fields for 23 years alongside my dad … I owe him a lot, I owe him everything,” adding it’s important to recognize the work Chavez did for LGBTQ rights during a time when no one spoke about the issue.
Mayor Pro tem Geoff Kors and Councilwoman Lisa Middleton, who represented the City of Palm Springs, both spoke about the impact Chavez had on their lives.
Edwin Ramoran spoke about the important role Filipinos played in the movement and led the room in a chant of, “Si se puede!”
The room spontaneously held hands and sang along to a performance by Charles Herrera and Paulina Angel of “De Colores” a song intertwined with the farm worker movement.
Paul hopes his father’s message of hope continues to inspire future generations, “If we have faith in people and we never give up, we can make things better.”