PHOENIX — Today, the nation celebrates the life and legacy of Arizona’s civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez.
Living in Phoenix, one of his grandchildren shares how his grandfather’s legacy can only be carried on if we preserve the right to vote for every American.
Alejandro Chavez says that at the center of his grandfather’s legacy is the right to vote for every person who has done their part at making America a better place. He says that includes farm workers whose path to citizenship, and ultimately voting, is now in the hands of Congress.
“This is an important part not just for the labor movement, I think it’s a big piece for humanity to stop and say: People who give their lives for a country have a right to be part of that country, whether you are serving in the military, a front-line worker, or a farm worker making sure that you have the lettuce that you need,” said Alejandro Chavez.
Just like his grandfather, Alejandro Chavez is passionate about the rights of those who for decades have dedicated their lives to putting food on America’s tables. Through the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 he believes, Cesar Chavez’s plight would be fulfilled.
"Farm workers have been wearing masks for a lot longer than this past year, farm workers have been wearing masks forever because of the pesticides that they spray. All we are asking and all this bill does is make them equal to everybody else no more, just no longer no less.”
Chavez, who fasted countless times to bring about fair wages and humane working conditions for farm workers, dedicated his life to organizing farm workers.
"I believe my grandfather’s greatest work was only possible through voting,” added Chavez.
And it’s those voting rights, that were passed into laws in the 1960s, that he believes are now under attack by state legislators across the country, in states that include Cesar Chavez’s own Arizona.
“I would love to see them maybe holdback the honoring and the big public grandstand and just vote to support people’s right to vote. Stop suppressing the vote, that would be a greater honor than a holiday, if they just backed off of it and allowed people a right to vote. Allow that to happen, the true democratic process,” he added.
Alejandro believes the Arizona from back then when Cesar Chavez made every attempt to reach equal rights for his people hasn’t changed.
"Same challenges right, farm workers rights are exactly the same. The same laws that prevent farm workers from organizing, strikes and boycott, it’s still a right-to-work state. The biggest difference is the representation that we have”
It's that equal representation in key leadership roles that he believes will make a difference after all his grandfather's crusade for voting rights.
“He would be the first one standing here, we need to protect voting rights, we need to ensure that people have the right amount of time, early voting, vote by mail all the other attacks they are doing. That is what his union was about, ensuring the right to vote.