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Subject: Over 2,000 Unite for Cesar Chavez Holiday

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Over 2,000 Unite for Cesar Chavez Holiday Web Published on November 22, 1999

Call to make civil and labor rights leader's birthday a California
holiday gains momentum

By Abelardo de la Peña Jr.

"Make Cesar Chavez's birthday a paid state holiday!" was the united
demand of over 2000 demonstrators who rallied recently at La Placita
Olvera, the founding place of the City of Los Angeles.

The festive and impassioned rally brought together families, students,
labor unions, community organizations, religious leaders, cultural
groups and numerous elected officials who sent a united message to
California's state capital to pass Senate Bill 984, which would tribute
the late United Farm Worker founder, Cesar E. Chavez, with a holiday.

"We are here today for one reason," stated Evelina Alarcon, coordinator
of the Cesar E. Chavez Holiday campaign and one of the emcees of the
rally. "We want the state in which Cesar marched, picketed, fasted, and
lived to honor one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century?and we
won't stop until a holiday is won!"

State Senator Richard Polanco, majority leader of the State Senate who
authored Senate Bill 984, received rousing cheers as he called Chavez
"an incredible human being...who provided a voice to the voiceless,
hope to those who were losing hope, and leadership to those who had the will
but weren't sure of the way."

"Some believe that Cesar Chavez is a hero to the Latino community,"
Senator Polanco said. "In fact, he is a hero to all people who believe

in dignity, human rights and non-violence. Cesar Chavez stands among
Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his adherence to
principles of non-violence and his advocacy of human rights!"

That sentiment was echoed by speaker after speaker as the crowd waved
UFW black and red flags and shouted their approval by repeating over
and over "Sí se puede!" the rallying cry of Chavez and his union.

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with
Chavez, told attendees at the rally that the holiday would "share
Cesar's legacy with the world" and let the world know that "workers
need to be respected." She said the campaign would not stop in California
but looked forward to winning a national holiday as well.

At the end of the rally, in keeping with Cesar Chavez's legacy, many
rally participants joined a picket line of restaurant workers at an
Olvera Street establishment, "La Luz Del Dia," to protest the firing
of workers who were demanding a minimum wage.

The holiday campaign will now move to more intense lobbying of the
State Senate where the bill must receive support in order to move to the
State Assembly and ultimately to Governor Gray Davis's desk for approval.

A state bill calling for the Cesar Chavez holiday was introduced in
1993 by State Senator Art Torres but was vetoed by then Republican Governor
Pete Wilson. When Senator Polanco asked the rally crowd if they would
take "no" for an answer this time, their response was a unanimous
resounding "No!"

Campaign coordinator Evelina Alarcon, who represents the Los Angeles
UFW Community Committee, the initiators of the holiday campaign, announced
to loud cheers that over 20,000 signatures have been collected on
petitions so far.

Note: For more information on SB 984 and the campaign, please call the
UFW at 213-381-5611.

For more information on the Farm Worker Movement visit our web site at

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