Every March 31 since 2000, the Committee to Honor César E. Chávez has celebrated the anniversary of his birth with a social justice march down Grandville Avenue. For an hour yesterday morning traffic was rerouted and the avenue was packed with more than a thousand exuberant children, youth, and adults chanting Sí Se Puede ("Yes We Can"), the anthem of the late, great social change agent, César E. Chávez. It ended at Roosevelt Park Community Church with a standing-room-only celebration of César's life.
César E. Chávez was a labor leader and civil rights activist who founded United Farm Workers. "When a the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering, and caring for his own family," he said, "the whole community is sick." Using such non-violent tactics as strikes, boycotts, and personal fasts, he made the world aware of the dire working conditions of U.S. agricultural workers and helped bring about industry-wide change.
Thanks to the Committee to Honor César E. Chávez, Grand Rapids will never forget this American hero. The committee spearheaded efforts for the commemorative designation of a portion of Grandville Avenue as César E. Chávez Boulevard; to change the name of Hall Elementary School to César E. Chávez Elementary School; and for the passage of Senate Bill No. 352 that designated March 31 of each year as César E. Chávez Day in the State of Michigan.