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CTA Joins Nation in Honoring Human Rights Leader César Chávez Today

Today the nation pauses to honor César Chávez, the human rights leader who battled for human dignity and social justice for all.

At CTA’s quarterly State Council of Education meeting this weekend, CTA President Dean Vogel, an elementary educator, and a thousand educators paid tribute to the co-founder of the United Farm Workers.

“Chávez’s words and quiet charisma moved millions,” said CTA President Vogel. “In a San Francisco speech in 1984, he said, ‘Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore…..’”

“Those words inspire all of us as educators and as union men and women in the 21st century. The pride and respect we instill in our students will spark social change as they grow up and recognize injustices,” the CTA leader said.

CTA also honors the late labor leader through its annual César Chávez scholarship program.

This awards program provides recognition for teams of students and their teachers who demonstrate an understanding of the vision and guiding principles by which César Chávez lived his life. 

On this day, it is also fitting to reflect on the status of the farmworkers for whom Cesar Chávez battled so hard.  David Bacon, a photojournalist, has shared his photo essays on the lives of farmworkers, including children, who labor in the fields in California.

Writes Bacon: “The communities of Mexican migrants living in California are increasingly made up of young people. The typical age of someone crossing the border today is about twenty years old, and the average age of all California farmworkers is twenty-one. Many young people, even children, work in the fields. On average, Mexican farmworkers in California have only six years of school, but younger Mexicans tend to have more education than older migrants.”

View Bacon's photo essay for a moving portrait of these workers who help bring in the harvest.

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