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First Lady visits Forty Acres on Cesar Chavez’s birthday

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Dr. Jill Biden honoring a man who spent his life serving others as 1,000s of farm workers are vaccinated where the union began in Delano—250 more workers getting shots on Cesar Chavez’s March 31 birthday

Delano, Calif.—Dr. Jill Biden honors a man who dedicated his life to serving others by spending Cesar Chavez’s birthday, Wednesday, March 31, at the historic “Forty Acres” property where the union began outside Delano and where thousands of farm workers are being vaccinated against COVID-19. Dr. Biden will participate as another 250 workers get vaccinated on Wednesday. Vaccination clinics there have administered about 1,100 shots each weekend over the previous three weeks in March through a partnership between the Cesar Chavez Foundation (which owns and manages the Forty Acres), United Farm Workers, UFW Foundation, Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force, Kern County and Kern Medical Center.

The Chavez foundation’s network of Spanish- and English-language radio stations has encouraged farm workers to call the bilingual toll free call centers of UFW Foundation and the Latino COVID-19 task force for appointments to get their shots. They are administered at the Forty Acres by staff from Kern Medical Center that handles check-in and administration.

Vaccinations are open to all farm workers 18 years and older at no charge and regardless of immigration status. No health insurance or doctor’s order is required.

The First Lady will be greeted and meet at the Forty Acres with farm worker movement leaders, farm workers, Chavez family members and staff and volunteers who have been organizing the vaccinations throughout the month of March.

Agricultural workers have turned to the Forty Acres with their problems since the 1960s. The 40-acre grounds include the spacious Reuther Hall where medical personnel set up shop. Workers and other Latinos have regularly visited the Forty Acres during the pandemic for distribution of large quantities of emergency food and face masks.

An adobe-brick former co-op service station at the entrance to the complex is where Cesar Chavez fasted for 25 days to rededicate the UFW to nonviolence and where he was joined by Senator Robert F. Kennedy when the fast ended on March 10, 1968. “It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life,” Chavez said in a statement read for him because he was so weak.

Dr. Biden will visit that structure, which includes a large storeroom displaying photos of the 1965-1970 Delano grape strike and the small restored room where Chavez fasted in 1968. The Forty Acres was dedicated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 2008.

Dr. Biden will also meet with farm workers. Farm labor issues have evolved over time, but today coalesce around the UFW- and UFW Foundation-sponsored Farm Workforce Modernization Act letting immigrant field laborers earn legal status and a path to citizenship by continuing to work in agriculture, which President Biden strongly backs.

“Just as farm worker issues have evolved through the years—and our movement with them—it is powerful to see historic sites such as Forty Acres evolving with new purposes,” said United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero. “It’s also heartening when people in positions of power take the time to meet with and understand farm workers and the barriers they face. Most urgent for them now is immigration justice and the path forward with the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.”

“We are honored by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s visit to the Cesar Chavez Day vaccination event in Delano,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Farm workers have put their lives at risk during the pandemic to feed this nation and they want protection from COVID-19. Through partnerships like the one at the Forty Acres, we’ve been able to provide thousands of farm workers access to vaccines. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration to ensure that life-saving vaccines reach farm workers throughout the country.” 

“For us, the Forty Acres is sacred ground,” said Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez. “It was the first permanent home for our movement and where my father fasted for 25 days in 1968, calling on all of us to dedicate ourselves to serving others. So what better way to keep my dad’s legacy alive today than by vaccinating farm workers here at the Forty Acres? What more fitting way for Dr. Biden to honor him than by taking part in helping protect farm workers who have suffered so disproportionately from COVID-19?”

Some 63 miles away, southeast of Bakersfield at the Tehachapi Mountain town of Keene, is the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument where Chavez lived and labored his last quarter century, and where he is buried with his wife, Helen. It is the 398th unit of the National Park Service and administered in partnership by the park service and the National Chavez Center, part of the Cesar Chavez Foundation.

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A Legacy of Service Virtual Video Series

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Join the Cesar Chavez Foundation for “A Legacy of Service,” a new virtual series bringing together experts, thought leaders, and activists to learn about the values Cesar Chavez epitomized as a way to inspire others to take action. These pre-recorded conversations are available online and available to everyone.

“A Legacy of Service” premieres here on Cesar Chavez Day, March 31. Join Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul Chavez and UFW President Teresa Romero in conversation as they discuss Cesar Chavez’s bold vision for a strong farmworkers’ union as well as services that would support that union by building communities up beyond the workplace. Learn about Cesar’s ambitious vision, and how half a century later, the lasting and ongoing effects of his work continue to transcend even his original aim.

Premiering March 31, 2021: Paul Chavez In Conversation with Teresa Romero 

Join us in encouraging our community, friends, and family members to learn more about Cesar Chavez’s legacy. #legacyofservice.

 

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President Biden’s Oval Office displaying Cesar Chavez bust

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Cesar Chavez Foundation sends sculpture to White House from Cesar E. Chavez National Monument

 

Keene, Calif.—A bronze bust of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez is on display in President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Oval Office. The 9 by 22” bronze sculpture on a granite pedestal by artist Paul A. Suarez had been on display in the Visitor Center of the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, the 398th unit of the National Park Service (NPS). This is where Chavez lived and labored his last quarter century and where he is buried alongside his wife, Helen, in the Tehachapi Mountain town of Keene, Calif. southeast of Bakersfield.

 

The President-elect’s transition team requested the artwork for the Oval Office and it was shipped to the White House by the Cesar Chavez Foundation, which through its arm, the National Chavez Center (NCC), helps administer the national monument in a partnership with the park service.

 

“Placing a bust of my father in the Oval Office symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation,” said Paul F. Chavez, Chavez’s middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “That isn’t just because it honors my dad, but more importantly because it represents faith and empowerment for an entire people on whose behalf he fought and sacrificed.”

 

“The most important quality about Cesar Chavez I wanted to convey with this sculpture was his compassion,” affirmed the artist, Paul Suarez. “It was created 25 years ago, relying heavily on research and input from people who were close to him.”

 

The historic Keene property, encompassing 187 acres, is managed collaboratively by the National Chavez Center and National Park Service. It includes three acres NCC donated to the park service to create the national monument when it was dedicated by President Obama during a ceremony in 2012. The Cesar Chavez Foundation and United Farm Workers are also headquartered on the grounds.

 

Suarez, 62, is a native of the west Central Valley farm town of Hanford, Calif. who now resides with his family in Tennessee. Self-taught, he has worked in bronze and stone as well as painted on canvas.