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Join us for the 2023 Cesar Chavez Legacy Awards Gala

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Join us and support the Cesar Chavez Foundation on March 23, 2023, as we collectively gather to make an impact and uphold Cesar’s vision for a brighter future.

Your support through the Cesar Chavez Foundation gala allows us to serve our most vulnerable working families through affordable housing development, education, broadcast communications, and the National Chavez Center, which preserves and promotes the legacy of Cesar Chavez. We can’t do it without you and look forward to seeing you at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles in March!

Are you interested in becoming a sponsor? You can download our sponsorship deck here! For more information, please contact Alexia Valencia at alexia@goodnesssakestrategies.com.

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Fred Ross Jr.’s matchless organizing talents empowered farm and other workers

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Fred Ross Jr.’s matchless organizing talents empowered farm and other workers

It is with profound sadness that the Cesar Chavez Foundation mourns the passing of Fred Ross Jr., whose six-decade-long organizing career empowered poor and oppressed workers to overcome bigotry and exploitation through self-organization and collective action. His wife, Margo Feinberg, who shared his passion for empowering workers and time with family and friends, reported that Fred passed away on the evening of Sunday, November 20, having just celebrated his 75th birthday. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

His father, Fred Ross Sr., was a legendary community organizer who Cesar Chavez credited for “training me and inspiring me and being my hero.”

In his eulogy for Fred Ross Sr. in 1992, Cesar said his “deeds live on in the hundreds of organizers he trained and inspired. Not the least of them is his son, Fred Jr., who made his father very proud.” “Fred Ross Jr. was a good shepherd of his father’s legacy,” affirmed Cesar’s son, Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez. “Part of Fred Jr.’s mission was developing future generations of leaders and organizers among poor and working people—perhaps the greatest thing an organizer can achieve,” Paul Chavez said.

Fred Ross Jr. was born in Long Beach, Calif. in 1947. His mother, Frances Ross, also influenced her son, having pioneered services for the mentally ill. Fred Jr.’s early childhood was in Boyle Heights where his primary language was Spanish.

After graduating from Redwood High School in Marin County and U.C. Berkeley in 1970, Fred joined the United Farm Workers, helping organize that year’s giant Salinas and Santa Maria lettuce and vegetable strikes. In addition to his father, at the UFW Fred Jr. was trained and mentored by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. The next few years were spent organizing farm worker campaigns in Oregon and Washington state, and leading the boycotts of grapes, lettuce, and E.&J. Gallo wines in the Bay Area.

After taking office in January 1975, California’s new governor, Jerry Brown, was not responding to UFW calls for a farm labor law granting field laborers the rights to organize, vote in union elections, and negotiate with their employers.

So, Fred proposed and spearheaded the UFW’s high-profile march from San Francisco to Gallo’s Modesto headquarters. Nearly 20,000 workers and supporters filled the streets of Modesto on the last day of the trek, March 1, 1975. The next day the UFW got a call from the governor’s office. The following week Cesar Chavez and UFW General Counsel Jerry Cohen met Jerry Brown at his house in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills. Fred’s march on Gallo kick-started three months of negotiations producing the historic Agricultural Labor Relations Act. When the first farm elections began that year, Fred directed UFW organizing in the Santa Maria area.

Fred pursued the law, graduating in 1980 from the University of San Francisco Law School and working as a public defender. By 1985, he led Neighbor to Neighbor, turning the national grassroots organization into an effective foreign policy advocacy group challenging the Reagan administration’s murderous Contra War in Nicaragua and its backing of death squads in El Salvador. He used his organizing skills leading the 1987 San Francisco grassroots get-out-the-vote drive electing Nancy Pelosi to Congress.

By 1998, Fred returned to his labor roots by organizing health care and service workers for the Service Employees International Union. In 2009, he began crafting an innovative organizing program for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, recruiting, engaging, and training the next generation of organizers from the ranks of its members dedicated to social justice and union solidarity. Fred retired from the union in February 2022.

Fred spent this past year working with filmmaker Ray Telles on a full-length feature documentary about his father, showing how collective action can combat prejudice and greed.

The father, Fred Ross Sr., had remarkable achievements. But perhaps his best legacy was Fred Jr. Colleagues over many decades said Fred Jr.’s organizing talents matched anyone’s, including Cesar and Fred Sr. As with his father, Fred Jr.’s labors were never about himself. He was always about empowering others to believe and indeed know they were responsible for the progress they won. Fred Jr.’s nature was ceaselessly positive; he always thought things could be done.

Fred Ross Jr. is survived by his wife, Margo Feinberg, a union labor lawyer; their two children, Charley and Helen Ross, who were introduced to picket lines as toddlers; brother Bob Ross; sister Julia Ross; and a legion of loving friends and family members and generations of organizers.

In lieu of flowers, the Ross family asks that contributions go to the Fred Ross documentary project. Written condolences to the family may be sent to FredrossMemories@gmail.com

 

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Invitation to help mark the 10th anniversary of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene

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Invitation to help mark the 10th anniversary of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene

Community members are invited to help the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument celebrate 10 years to the day since President Obama journeyed to Keene, Calif. for dedication of the 398th unit of the National Park Service before 7,000 people on the historic grounds where the farm labor and civil rights leader lived and labored his last quarter century. A commemorative ceremony is set in the monument’s Memorial Garden located at 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road in Keene starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

The event is free to the public and hosted by the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument and National Parks Service in partnership with the National Chavez Center, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, and National Park Foundation. Speakers include Chavez foundation President Paul F. Chavez; Frank Lands, regional director of the National Park Service; and Anne Stephan, superintendent of Chavez national monument. Visitors are invited to view new exhibits in the monument’s Visitor Center, get a special National Parks Passport commemorative cancellation stamp, and see the newly restored exterior of the modest nearby Chavez family home, where Cesar and Helen Chavez and their children resided.

The Chavez national monument was established on Oct. 8, 2012, by President Obama through Presidential Proclamation under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to honor the life and work of Cesar Chavez, particularly his role as a 20th Century Latino civil rights leader and his passionate dedication to the American farm worker movement. The monument is open year-round from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

For more information, check out César E. Chávez National Monument on Facebook.

Who: National Chavez Center, Cesar Chavez Foundation, National Park Foundation

What: 10th anniversary of the dedication by President Obama of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument

Where: Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road, Keene, Calif. 93531

When: 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022

 

   

 

 

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Cesar Chavez family invited to join Mexican president celebrating ‘El Grito’ at National Palace before a big crowd on giant Zócalo Plaza

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Cesar Chavez family invited to join Mexican president celebrating ‘El Grito’ at National Palace before a big crowd on giant Zócalo Plaza

Mexico City (September 12, 2022) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has invited the family of U.S. civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez to join him in proclaiming “El Grito”—The Cry of Dolores—celebrating Mexican independence on Thursday evening, Sept. 15 from the National Palace before a large crowd assembled in the giant Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución.

Five of Chavez’s eight children—Sylvia Delgado, Eloise Carrillo, Paul Chavez, Elizabeth Villarino, and Anthony Chavez—will join the Mexican president and a distinguished group of current and former heads of state and other international figures for the annual historical commemoration akin to America’s 4th of July. Also present will be grandson Andres Chavez, executive director of the National Chavez Center, which preserves and promotes his grandfather’s legacy.

The invitation is part of a long relationship of cooperation between the farm worker movement and the government and people of Mexico. Cesar Chavez was awarded the Aguila Azteca (the Aztec Eagle), Mexico’s highest honor for people of Mexican heritage. The farm worker movement worked with the Mexican administration to cover U.S. farm workers in Mexico under the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, the Mexican healthcare system.

Paul Chavez, president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, issued the following statement from the National Chavez Center in the Tehachapi Mountain town of Keene, Calif., where his father lived and labored his last quarter century, and where he and his wife Helen are buried. It also hosts the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, administered in partnership between the National Park Service and the National Chavez Center.

The Chavez family and farm worker movement express our gratitude to President Lopez Obrador and the government and people of Mexico for including us in this annual historical observation. We are proud of our ancestry and honored to participate in the president’s proclamation of El Grito that inspires people from both sides of the border.

Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, also marks the anniversary of when Cesar Chavez’s mostly Latino union joined Filipino workers by striking Delano, Calif.-area table and wine grape growers in 1965. That sparked a five-year-long landmark grape strike and a three-year-long international grape boycott.

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to visit the National Chavez Center

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden honors Cesar Chavez at a naturalization ceremony where Chavez lived & labored his last quarter century UFW’s Teresa Romero receiving Outstanding Americans by Choice award

Keene, Calif.—First Lady Dr. Jill Biden honors Cesar Chavez three days before what would have been the civil rights and farm labor leader’s 95th birthday by helping swear in 31 immigrants from nine countries as new U.S. citizens during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony where Chavez lived and labored his last quarter century. One of the new citizens is a UFW Foundation member from Bakersfield whose husband is a farm worker, Claudia Marcela Campos.

USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou will administer the Oath of Allegiance and present a national award to United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero, herself an immigrant and naturalized citizen, as an Outstanding American by Choice. Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez will also deliver remarks.

It is the second year in a row the first lady is visiting a farm worker movement historical property on or around Chavez’s birthday. On March 31, 2021, she marked the occasion by participating in a mass farm worker vaccination clinic at the “Forty Acres” near Delano, the movement’s headquarters before Chavez moved it to Keene in 1971.

Also historically significant is the 187-acre Keene property in the Tehachapi Mountains east of Bakersfield in Kern County. Comprising three acres of it is the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, the 398th unit of the National Park Service administered in a partnership by the park service and the National Chavez Center, part of the Chavez foundation.

Thousands of farm workers and supporters flowed through what Chavez named La Paz over the decades to plan and do their daily work—from organizing and boycotting to contract bargaining, administration, and financial management. La Paz was where many of the most important UFW campaigns—from the early 1970s onward—were devised, planned, and often coordinated. It was also where Chavez built a community of fellow union members and volunteers who worked with him full time for social justice. It was where Chavez and his colleagues lived out the principles they cherished, including nonviolence, simplicity of lifestyle and service to others.

Monday’s naturalization ceremony is set in the 17,000 square foot Mission style structure now called Villa La Paz. It was where generations of farm worker leaders learned to run their own union by organizing, negotiating and administering union contracts, and resolving differences with growers.

UFW President Teresa Romero said, “I first came to this country in my 20s, seeking a better life for myself—like millions of immigrants before me, like many of you. My respect for the UFW and the farm workers—and my understanding of their struggles—hails from the fact that when I came to America, I did not speak or understand English. I appreciate what it is like to come to a new country, to be exposed to a new language, a new culture, a new people. I have come to be equally proud of my Mexican and Zapotecan heritage as wellas my U.S. citizenship.”

Chavez foundation President Paul Chavez observed, “My dad was the son and grandson of immigrants who in the late 1800s fled the servitude of the hacienda system in Mexico. They sought opportunities they knew they could never have in their native country, sharing the dream of all immigrants—then and now—to partake in the opportunities, benefits, and prosperity this nation offers. But my father was convinced American citizenship is about more than taking an oath and waving the American flag. Citizenship is about empowering yourself and your community through participation, becoming fully informed, registering to vote, voting, and becoming fully engaged in your community’s civic, political, and cultural affairs.”

UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres said, “On this day, in this country of immigrants, we continue the proud tradition of welcoming new American citizens and congratulate everyone, including our own member, Claudia, on this achievement. Today we also thank First Lady Jill Biden for joining us in this fundamental practice to our democracy. We are emboldened by her dedication and commitment to the immigrant community and hope to work with her and the Biden administration to expand immigrant rights in the upcoming months and years.”