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César Chávez Day
César Chávez Day
Poster of Cesar Chavez Day
Observed by (1) A formal holiday in US states of Arizona, California, Michigan, New Mexico, Washington, Utah, and Wisconsin state holiday
(2) An optional holiday in US states of Colorado and Texas, state offices open with limited staffing
(3) A festival day in Nebraska and Nevada
(4) A commemorative proclamation holiday by the United States
Date March 31

Cesar Chavez Day is a U.S. federal commemorative holiday, proclaimed by President Barack Obama in 2014. The holiday celebrates the birth and legacy of the civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez on March 31 every year.

Observances by state

State Observance
Arizona State offices closed.
California State offices and schools closed on March 31In 2019, state offices (including DMV) will be closed on Monday, April 1.
Colorado Declared as an optional holiday on March 31
Michigan State offices and schools closed
New Mexico State offices and schools closed
Texas Declared as an optional holiday on March 31
Utah State offices and school is optional
Wisconsin State offices and schools closed
Washington The thirty-first day of March, recognized as Cesar Chavez day
Minnesota The thirty-first day of March, recognized as Cesar Chavez day

Origins

Cesar chavez crop2
Cesar Chavez in 1974

Cesar Chavez (born César Estrada Chávez, March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW).

It is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of Cesar Chavez's life and work. Some state government offices, community colleges, libraries, and public schools are closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona (official holiday in the city of Phoenix, Arizona) and Colorado. Americans are urged to "observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez's enduring legacy." In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado).

History

Proclamations

On March 31, 2008, while a senator, Barack Obama endorsed the idea of creating a national holiday in Chavez's honor: "Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union." Grassroots organizations continued to urge creation of such a national holiday; and, on March 30, 2011, Obama as president reiterated his support: "Cesar Chavez's legacy provides lessons from which all Americans can learn."

Cesar Chavez Day has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada's governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day.

On March 28, 2014, President Obama used his authority to proclaim each March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day.

National holiday movement

Santana Acer Arena (5558151833) (cropped)
Carlos Santana, leader of national movement to declare Cesar Chavez Day a national holiday

Cesar Chavez Day as a national holiday has gained support from musician Carlos Santana, civil rights and labor leaders. Rallies were held in 2006 in Los Angeles with the goal of raising awareness beyond California. Currently, a major obstacle to this day becoming a national holiday is caused by a rule in Congress that prevents bills with national holiday provisions from being introduced. The holiday proposal would need to overcome that obstacle before legislation can be introduced.

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