As a handful of states mark Cesar Chavez Day—a holiday honoring the iconic civil rights activist and labor leader who spearheaded historic boycotts and strikes—men and women at the backbone of the food system are taking to the streets to show resistance to President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies.
According to a press statement from the United Farm Workers of America, the union Chavez founded, marches will take place in 11 communities that largely backed President Donald Trump across four states—California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington state. "These marches are more urgent than ever with the Trump anti-immigrant agenda," the organization says.
The marchers, some of whom are undocumented or have family members who are undocumented, will carry signs and banners reading "We feed you," the statement adds.
One march in Salem is taking place Friday, which would have been Chavez's 90th birthday, while the others are set to take place Saturday and Sunday.
As food justice organization Food First has pointed out:
Food and farm workers are often rendered voiceless within the current food system—particularly the hundreds of thousands of primarily Mexican and Central American immigrants who seek employment in the United States. Yet our food system is dependent on the hard work of undocumented immigrants, and exploits their vulnerability to keep production costs low. The lack of economic opportunities in their home countries—often stemming from free trade agreements like NAFTA that undermine their local economies—brings these workers to U.S. farms, where they work long hours for little pay, under conditions of insecurity and isolation
At the annual Cesar Chavez March to the California state capitol last Saturday, participants made connections between the work and legacy of the farmworker advocate and the threats now posed by the Trump administration.
The Sacramento Bee wrote that 28-year-old Janeth Rodiguez
and Dustin Moon, 30, carried a banner featuring a painting by Sacramento artist Xico Gonzalez that read "no ban no wall," a reference to Trump's proposed temporary ban on travel from six Muslim-majority nations as well as his proposed border wall. In a pop-art style, the banner showed a young Muslim woman in a hijab and a Latina farmworker with a red scarf over her face.
"[Chavez's] humanity and his work to advance justice and equality for all would have required him to speak out," the outlet quotes former Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado as saying. "He'd be ready to organize throughout California and throughout the country."
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Advocacy groups, lawmakers, activists, and others are taking to Twitter with the hashtags #CesarChavezDay and #SíSePuede—a reference to Chavez's galvanizing cry—to mark the holiday and the highlight the work of Chavez and its relevance today:
— Voto Latino (@votolatino) March 31, 2017
— Center 4 Food Safety (@CFSTrueFood) March 31, 2017
— CWA (@CWAUnion) March 31, 2017
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 31, 2017
— PAN North America (@pesticideaction) March 31, 2017
— NIHdpc (@NIHdpc) March 31, 2017
— Economic Policy Inst (@EconomicPolicy) March 31, 2017
— RoseAnn DeMoro (@RoseAnnDeMoro) March 31, 2017
— Kevin de Leόn (@kdeleon) March 31, 2017
— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) March 31, 2017