When California State University, Fresno, celebrates Cesar E. Chavez Day in the Peace Garden Tuesday, March 29, participants also will observe the 15th anniversary of the monument to the late founder of the United Farm Workers union.
University President John D. Welty will deliver remarks recognizing the legacy of Chavez, who often turned to Fresno State students for support in the struggle for farm worker rights and improved working conditions. Chavez often encouraged children of farm workers to get a higher education.
Welty will speak shortly after noon at the garlanding ceremony, which is from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Luz Gonzalez, dean of the College of Social Sciences, was the head of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department when the monument was dedicated March 31, 1996, and was among those who led the charge.
“We were the first university who responded to Chavez’s death by celebrating his life with the first life-size monument in the country and on university grounds,” Gonzalez said.
The 9-foot-high bronze sculpture was designed and created by Paul Suarez of Roseville and sits as the east anchor to the four monuments now standing in the Peace Garden. It is across from the Mahatma Gandhi monument, which was the first monument erected there. On the north side of the garden is the monument to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on the south side stands a statue in tribute to Jane Addams.
On the annual observance of the state holiday commemorating Chavez’s birth, the university community gathers to remember him, place a garland of carnations on his monument, and invite participants to lay single carnations around its base. Keynote speakers have included Chavez’s siblings, children and grandchildren.
This year, two icons of the UFW movement with Chavez will speak: Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez, who is Cesar’s younger brother.
Also, an art exhibit honoring Chavez and the UFW is on display on the second floor of the Henry Madden Library.
The campus is closed for the Cesar E. Chavez Day state holiday on Thursday, March 31.
For more information contact Ambar Alvarez Soto at 559.278.6097.
(University Communications news intern Christy Patron contributed to this copy)
Original press release: UFW’s Huerta, Chavez on campus March 29