A bronze plaque was dedicated Tuesday, December 4 in Salinas outside the Old Monterey County Jail, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 because of its link with the incarceration there of Cesar Chavez on Dec. 4, 1970. He had disobeyed a rural judge’s injunction against the boycott of a huge Salinas Valley vegetable grower. As he was being led away in the Salinas courtroom after the judge ordered him to jail, Chavez defiantly said, “Boycott the hell out of them.” After 20 days, on Christmas Eve, he was ordered set free by the California Supreme Court, which later found the injunction unconstitutional. Coretta Scott King and Ethel Kennedy, widows of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, visited him at the jail.
“The lessons learned nearly 50 years apply today,” said Andres Chavez, 24, a Chavez grandson representing the Chavez family and Cesar Chavez Foundation at the plaque unveiling ceremony in front of the old jail. “It is my hope that this plaque serves as a source of inspiration and a call to action to be courageous and to always stand on the right side of history, whether it be resisting the separation of families or continuing to support the farm workers’ right to organize.”