The Washington Post

For Cesar Chavez historic park, agency recommends sites in California and Arizona

The National Park Service is recommending that Congress create a historic park to honor farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. It would be made up of four sites in California and a former church hall in Phoenix where the famous rallying cry “Si se puede” was popularized.

The recommendation came last week after a multi-year study of sites that are significant to the life of Chavez and the farm labor movement. Congress authorized the study in 2008, and the Park Service narrowed a list of about 100 sites to five for a two-state national historic park.

Marc Grossman, Chavez’s longtime spokesman, speechwriter and personal aide, said including sites in Arizona and California would be fitting because it would recognize the length and breadth of Chavez’s work.

As head of the United Farm Workers (UFW), the Arizona-born Chavez staged a huge grape boycott and countless field strikes, and forced growers to sign contracts providing better pay and working conditions to the predominantly Latino farmworkers. He is credited with inspiring millions of other Latinos in their fight for more educational opportunities, better housing and more political power.

UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta was at Chavez’s side at the Santa Rita Center, a downtown Phoenix church hall, during a 1972 fast that helped reshape Arizona’s political landscape. Chavez and other UFW leaders had been talking about a state law that restricted the rights of farmworkers to strike or boycott crops.

Farmworkers and other labor leaders were sounding a note of defeat. Huerta responded that they should think positively, saying: “Si se puede,” or “It can be done.”

Ultimately, thousands of farmworkers and supporters such as Coretta Scott King participated in rallies and Masses in downtown Phoenix, giving voice to the UFW slogan.

The Santa Rita Center, an extension of the Sacred Heart Church, is a small building on an inner-city street near the airport. Chicanos Por La Causa, a group that traces its roots to the activists who met there, opens it for some events. But it sits vacant most of the time.

The Park Service is recommending that the agency work with local communities to educate the public not only about Chavez, the farm labor movement and its organizers, but about the art and music associated with it, as well as contemporary struggles for human and labor rights, said Martha Crusius, the project manager for the site study.

The sites in California are:

●The Forty Acres National Historic Landmark in Delano, home to the union hall where grape growers signed their first union contracts after five years of grape strikes and boycotts. It was also here that Chavez held his other public fast, this one to protest the use of pesticides. The building serves as a field office for the UFW.

●The Filipino Community Hall in Delano, which became a symbol of multiethnic unity during the 1960s, serving as a joint headquarters for farm labor movements led by Filipino organizer Larry Itliong and Chavez.

●McDonnell Hall in San Jose, recognized as the place Chavez made his start as a community organizer.

●Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz in Keene, which served as the UFW’s planning and coordination center starting in 1971. It’s where Chavez and many organizers lived, trained and strategized, and Chavez taught farmworkers how to write contracts and negotiate with growers. President Obama last year designated part of this 187-acre site, known more simply as “La Paz,” as the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.

Persuading Congress to designate the five sites as a national historic park could be tough.

“Not a lot is happening in Congress right now, and it’s hard to get anything passed among the deadlock between the two parties,” said Ron Sundergill of the National Parks Conservation Association. “So, we’ll see.”

— Associated Press

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.