Lawmakers Propose New National Monument Honoring Cesar Chavez

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
A parcel of property called "40 Acres" in Delano, the site of the United Farmworkers' first headquarters, is part of the proposed Cesar E. Chaves National Historical Park. Photo Credit: Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia Commons

Congress is considering a new bill to establish a national historical park honoring union organizer Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement he led.

The new park would include the existing national monument in Keene, plus the site of the first headquarters in Delano and the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix, Arizona. U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz – D-CA – co-sponsored the House version of the bill.

“Growing up the son of farm workers in Coachella, I remember seeing Cesar Chavez organize our parents,” said Ruiz. “And he was an inspiration to all of us then and he continues to be an inspiration to me to this day and to many of us.”

McDonnell Hall in San Jose is likely to be added to the park in the future. The bill also would establish a national historic trail along the 300-mile march route taken by farmworkers between Delano and Sacramento in 1966.

Ruiz said part of the National Park Service’s mandate is to tell the nation’s story – and all groups should see their achievements honored.

“It’s so important to elevate the voices of individuals and the movements like the farmworkers who are such an essential part of our nation’s history, our culture, our economy,” said Ruiz. “And that’s why it’s so important to tell their stories as well.”

Right now only a small percentage of the nation’s national historic sites honor Americans of color.