Why We March
The purpose of the César E. Chávez March for Justice is to celebrate and pay tribute to the life and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, a San Antonio tradition since 1997.
Since 1997 people from all walks of life and from every side of our great city have united on the last Saturday of March to make the 2 mile trek from the Westside of San Antonio to downtown. We march in unity to not only celebrate this beautiful legacy but to also lend our voices on the issues most important for our community. This expression is beautifully displayed with colorful banners, t-shirts, handmade posters, music, and art depicting the plight of and honoring the farmworker.
César Chávez , a role model and true American hero was a civil rights, Latino and farm labor leader, a genuinely religious and spiritual figure; a community organizer and social entrepreneur; a champion of militant nonviolent social change; and a crusader for the environment and consumer rights. Cesar Chavez loved San Antonio and visited many times to organize and mobilize for La Causa.
Today, there are many important causes and the need to address many of the issues facing our community needs us all to civically engage where we can to help make a difference, in full Si Se Puede spirit!
We march to lend our voice and address:
- Wage disparities—low minimum wage, unequal pay for women
- Rising costs and access to healthcare benefits
- Food Insecurity
- Voting rights
- Educational reform and Graduation rates at high school and college levels
- The Digital Divide impact in our inner city the importance of access to technology for students and working families.
- Gentrification of inner-city neighborhoods and high property taxes, and supporting housing development that is committed to meeting the needs of working families, creating living communities we can all be proud of.
¡VIVA LA CAUSA! ¡SI SE PUEDE!
César's Visit to San Antonio '79
In 1979, a young up and coming Chicano labor leader for the IUE-AFL-CIO introduced César Chávez to the community at large in San Antonio at the MAUC (The Mexican American Unity Council) on the west side of San Antonio.
In 1979, the United Farm Workers (UFW) called for a boycott of Chiquita bananas. The boycott was in response to low wages that farm workers received from Chiquita and was part of a series of strikes and boycotts organized by the UFW in the 1970s. The UFW demanded that grocery stores across the U.S. not stock Chiquita bananas and attempted to raise money in order to support the workers and their families.
CECLEF Chairman Ernest J. Martinez shares insight and actual archive video that was documented by CECLEF Founder, the late Jaime P. Martinez. In the video is Joe Aldarete, Alamo Colleges Board of Trustee and Patti Radle, SAISD Board of Trustee, who share their experience of that meeting as both were in attendance to witness Cesar's message and visit to San Antonio.
History of The March
From being met with much resistance in 1997 to what has now become a beautiful tradition in San Antonio, the video highlights the community mission of coming together to celebrate the life and legacy of César E. Chávez.
Hear from Arturo Rodriguez, President Emeritus of the UFW (United Farm Workers), Richard Perez, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Rebecca Flores, Activist and UFW Organizer, Shirley Gonzalez, Former City District 5 Councilwoman, Larry Romo, Veteran leader and activist, and Commissioner Tommy Calvert, Bexar County Commissioner and former Grand Marshal as they reflect on the history and purpose of the annual César E. Chávez March for Justice now entering the 28th year.
Changing of Durango to Cesar Chavez Blvd.
The effort to honor César Chávez through the renaming of a major thoroughfare in San Antonio was met with much controversy and debate in our city. This battle began with an unstoppable group of activists that held city leaders accountable, many of which were afraid to embrace. Early adopters of the street change from 1997 to 2006 included District 6 Councilman Jose Menendez, District 7 Councilman Julian Castro, District 5 Councilwoman Patti Radle, District 4 City Councilman Ricahrd Perez, and District 1 Councilman Roger Flores.
While momentum was building due the strong community organizing by activist leaders, city leadership evolved and the effort was met with resistance that included lawsuits and push back by those who didn't believe César Chávez was worthy of the name change. By 2007, and under the leadership of Mayor's Phil Hardberger and Julian Castro a momentum shift of support emerged with new city council leaders in District 7 Councilman Justin Rodriguez, District 4 Councilman Phil Cortez, District 5 Councilwoman Lourdes Rodriguez, and District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal.
In 2011, City Councilman Philip Cortez in his second term on the San Antonio City Council initiated a 5 signature memo to put it on the City Council agenda. Finally, with a vote of 7-4 the street name change was passed by the City Council. A highlight of the video is a strong message from Dolores Huerta during the 3rd Annual Cesar Chavez March for Justice to the Mayor and the establishment on why Cesar deserved this honor.