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News

Today is a Holiday... Happy César Chávez Day!

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Photo of César Chávez via the César E. Chávez Foundation

Today is a sanctioned government holiday in California (and six other states), but that depends on who you're talking to. Los Angeles city and state offices are closed, but county and federal remain open. LAUSD kids are in class right now while some Cal State schools get the day off. University of California campuses are also not recognizing the holiday, which signed into law in 2000 by Gov. Gray Davis. Therefore, some are protesting, via the Daily News:

Student activists at UCLA and other schools around the state plan to cut classes today -- Cesar Chavez day -- to protest the failure of schools to close down on the state holiday marking the birthday of the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary -- which calls itself BAMN -- will lead a rally and march planned by the student activists. Other rallies will be held elsewhere in Los Angeles, Oakland and Sacramento, organizers said.

However, some schools who are open today say they are taking the day to teach students about the famous California labor leader and civil rights activist.Chávez was "a true American hero, Cesar was a civil rights, Latino, farm worker, and labor leader; a religious and spiritual figure; a community servant and social entrepreneur; a crusader for nonviolent social change; and an environmentalist and consumer advocate," explains the
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César E. Chávez Foundation's biography page. Chávez got his start working his way up to National Director at the Community Service Organization (CSO) in the 50s and early 60s, where he "coordinated voter registration drives and conducted campaigns against racial and economic discrimination primarily in urban areas." Though, his dream was to protect and serve farm workers who were ill treated. In 1962, he left the CSO and founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.

Chávez died in 1993 and in 2006, he was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. Here in Los Angeles, César E. Chávez Blvd. runs from Sunset Boulevard and the 110 Fwy and runs through East Los Angeles. There's also a petition going around trying to make today a national holiday -- you can sign it here.