¡Viva la Causa!

Senior David Padilla voices his opinion on the under represented César Chávez Day and the activists effect on his youth and Latino civil rights.


Photo by Los Angeles Times Photographic Collection via Wikimedia Commons

Being a first-generation Mexican-American, my parents never informed me of the historical roots of César Chávez Day in the United States. I would always hear phrases thrown around in my house such as “la raza” and “viva la causa” growing up, but I was never taught about their impact on the Latino community within school. Similarly, I feel that students have a vague sense of who César Chávez was, what he represents, but his legacy should be carried on through an educational curriculum taught at school. 

Before high school I was never taught anything about César Chávez within the classroom. All the information that I knew about him was how he helped to organize huelgas for farm workers and most of all, his famous catchphrase “¡Sí se puede!”  

When I had the opportunity to take AP Spanish Language & Culture during my junior year, my eyes were opened to the years of history that explain my cultural background. This course is divided up into units such as global challenges (“desafíos mundiales”), the influence of language and culture on identity (“la influencia de la idioma y cultura en la identidad”), and contemporary life (“la vida contemporánea”). AP Spanish definitely broadened my perspective of United States history and the history behind my Mexican heritage. Through these units, Señora Magñone taught my classmates and I about the East L.A. Walkouts, Ruben Salazar, the culture of the Aztec civilization, and the “huelgas,” or protests, of César Chávez. 

Throughout this course, I discovered how Chávez was more than just the catchphrase “¡Sí se puede!” He became the face of a socio-cultural movement known as “El Movimiento” (The Chicano Movement). César Chávez helped to bring awareness to the discrimination and inequalities that the Latino community within the United States experienced for years (and still continue to do so). Dolores Huerta and Chavez’s non-violent efforts of bringing attention to the rights and living conditions of farm workers would accumulate in the creation of the United Farm Workers (UFW). Chávez would later go on to influence the philosophy of other Latino activists such as Rodolfo Corky Gonzalez and Guadalupe Briseño. He was one of the first Latinos to be the voice for “la raza” and stand up for the community. The impact that Chávez had on countless Latino families is tremendous and that is why he is deeply admired within the community. 

In 2014, former president Barack Obama announced the federal holiday of César Chávez Day to be celebrated on March 31 every year. The day commemorates the legacy and activism of César Chávez. Last year California Governor Gavin Newsom declared César Chávez Day a state holiday. 

When I took AP Spanish, I began to notice the lack of attention that Redondo Union High School has paid to César Chávez Day. Our school has not educated their students enough to understand who Chávez was and his contributions to the Latino community. In the realm of education, schools are tasked with the concept of transferring knowledge to their students so that they can develop a basic understanding of an idea or person. However, I feel as if Redondo Union has especially failed its Latino students by not educating us enough on the prominence of César Chávez and other Latino leaders. 

According to the RBUSD Annual Enrollment Data, approximately 24 percent of Redondo Union students identify as Hispanic/Latino.” Considering the ever-growing population of Latino students in the Redondo Beach Unified School District, it is important that RUHS ensures the representation of Latino history within its curriculum. 

Although the school district does not recognize César Chavez Day, in the Hispanic Honorary Society on campus, we try our best to educate our members of the history behind this prominent day. You may have noticed the posters around school that highlight some of Chavez’s famous quotes or our Instagram announcements. I hope to see that in the future RBUSD begins to recognize César Chávez Day as a school holiday to commemorate the civil work that Chávez accomplished for the Latino community.