What Does Cesar Chavez Mean to Me?

This weekend I joined the KUNM Youth Radio Project at the Cesar Chavez march and festival in the South Valley of New Mexico. I am in the photo above on the left.  After being given a quick rundown on interviewing, I was thrown in; luckily I’ve always had a knack for scrambling. With a little help, I came up with three questions which I repeatedly asked throughout my interviews. These questions included: What does Cesar Chavez mean to you? Why is it important that events like this happen? What are you doing here today?

Seeing as all these interviewees were good sports about the whole thing, I thought it would only be fair to ask these questions to myself. So, what does Cesar Chavez mean to me? To be honest, I didn’t even know that much about him before this Saturday. To me, he was a figure with no background, he stood for something, but something I had no emotion about, no passion behind. Listening to people describe him as “our savior,” and “our Martin Luther King Jr.” shaped my own opinions. The people I talked to loved and respected this man, how could I possibly know so little about him? Well not to worry, I was edified. Cesar Chavez is a man who stood up for those who had no voice, fought for those who were weak, and lifted those whom he found hopeless. I learned that before he became an activist, Cesar Chavez was a farm worker and a second generation immigrant living in Arizona. Chavez did not complete his education after he was forced to work full time and provide for his family. For years he fought for worker and minority rights, risking harm and prison for his cause.

What was the extent of knowledge I had about Cesar Chavez before this weekend? I only knew there was a street named after him. Even I, a resident of New Mexico, where these issues of immigration and work are still so prevalent, was completely oblivious. So that brings me to the next question, why should these events happen? Well, they should happen so oblivious people who have only been to the South Valley to go to the zoo, such as myself, can learn about people like Cesar Chavez. Events like this need to happen so that Cesar Chavez’s legacy lives on, and his spirit never dies, and as I was told, “We can’t forget our past.” I learned so much about not only Cesar Chavez, but also more about New Mexican culture and people. Why was I there? I was invited to come, and I never pass up an opportunity to learn. Leaving my house, I didn’t even know I was going to a march. Yup, if you were there, I was the one person wearing flip-flops. As unprepared as I was, I had a great time. I learned more about my community, my roots, and my fellow New Mexicans, and I look forward to learning everything else I can. Goodness knows what else I’m missing.

by: Abby Magnus