Cesar Chavez Foundation and Housing Authority of the County of Kern Break Ground on High-quality Affordable Housing Community in Bakersfield, Calif

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Cesar Chavez Foundation and Housing Authority of the County of Kern Break Ground on High-quality Affordable Housing Community in Bakersfield, California 

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (October 30, 2023) The Cesar Chavez Foundation and Housing Authority of the County of Kern announced the groundbreaking of a new affordable housing community in Bakersfield, Calif. Renaissance at Baker will create 85 units of affordable housing for low-income families and persons with disabilities, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

The groundbreaking marks the start of construction of the 85 units, comprised of 37 one-bedroom units, 21 two-bedroom units and 26 three-bedroom units reserved for families earning between 30%-60% AMI. Forty-two of the units will be reserved for persons with disabilities with incomes at or below 30% AMI. The development will seek a highly sustainable LEED-certification and is designed by Y&M Architects. It will feature an outdoor space spread out over two courtyards that includes spaces for sitting and a life-size chess area. The total development cost for the project is $48.5 million.

The Housing Authority of the County of Kern, a local government agency providing safe, affordable housing to thousands of Kern County residents through special programs serving families, individuals, senior citizens, veterans, persons with disabilities, homeless, farm workers and emancipated foster youth, will provide residents with on-site service programs.  

“Renaissance at Baker will address a significant shortage of affordable housing and the need to assist Kern County’s homeless and chronically homeless,” said Paul Chavez, President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “Our mission is to improve the lives of working families, and this development is a step towards achieving that goal in an area where my father began his work more than 60 years ago.” 

“We’re pleased to partner with the City and Cesar Chavez Foundation to help revitalize the Old Town Kern neighborhood and bring much needed affordable housing and services to the area,” said Stephen Pelz, Executive Director at Housing Authority of the County of Kern. 

“Building new affordable housing for the most vulnerable of our community in a once vacant lot is an investment in the wellbeing of Bakersfield residents and aligns with the City of Bakersfield’s revitalization efforts for Old Town Kern,” said Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales 


Stop AAPI Hate Interviews Marc Grossman, Spokesperson for the Chavez Foundation

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To honor both Hispanic Heritage Month and Filipino American History Month, Stop AAPI Hate spoke with Marc Grossman, spokesperson for the Cesar Chavez Foundation, on the legacy of cross-racial solidarity between Filipino and Mexican-American farmworkers. In the interview, Grossman shared his personal experiences with Cesar Chavez and the movement, as well as how the Foundation continues to promote and uphold social justice and cross-racial solidarity. Keep reading for their full conversation:


How did you meet César Chavez? 

Marc: I came of age, socially and politically, in the 1960s. I did my undergraduate work in American history at the University of California, Irvine. Farm labor history was something I took an interest in. I guess at some point, I figured out that it would be a lot more interesting to be a part of history than to just read about it.

This was during the time of the Delano Grape Strike and Boycott — and so, after class and on weekends, I picketed supermarkets. I’d join car caravans bringing food and clothes to the striking workers in Delano. The first time I met César was at Filipino Hall, where the caravans ended up. But I really got to know him through his eldest son, Fernando; we’ve been close friends since we were both 19- or 20-year-old college students. I knew César the last 24 years of his life, and this is my 54th year with the movement.

What a time to be a part of the labor movement! Can you tell me more about César’s decision to join the Delano Grape Strike? At that point, what was the relationship between Latino and Filipino farmworkers? 

Marc: To answer that question, you have to go back to 1962, when César Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Gilbert Padilla, and others started the NFWA — what became the United Farm Workers (UFW). You know, the genesis of their activism was not labor organizing. It was community organizing. And while they understood only a union could overcome abuses in the fields, they were also convinced that when the workers left the job site and returned to their communities, they faced crippling dilemmas having to do with race, language, and ethnicity. This was real discrimination and they believed it would take more than a union to overcome these dilemmas. It would take a movement.

The UFW helped pioneer several labor innovations. The first was solidarity between the races because they knew from studying history that the way growers broke field strikes and crushed unions was by pitting the races against each other. They used Latinos to break the Filipino strikes and Filipinos to break Latino strikes.

So, when Larry Itliong asked César and the UFW to join the picket lines, they didn’t think they had a choice. They insisted that grape strikers of both races share the same picket lines, the same union hall, and the same strike kitchen. That was unequivocal. It’s true — a few members of César’s union — Chicano nationalists — objected to joining the Filipino farmworkers, and asked to put it to a union vote. And César told them he believed in union democracy, but he didn’t think you should vote on whether or not to discriminate. He said, “you can have your vote — and I’ll quit and go join the Filipino union instead.” That was the end of the debate.

That is such a powerful anecdote — especially during a difficult time for race relations in the America of the 1960s. Tell me, what was the origin of the César Chavez Foundation when César Chavez and others created it under a different name, and what is the Chavez Foundation now?

Marc: Since César and his colleagues knew it would take a movement to redress abuses in the community, during the ‘60s César, Larry Itliong and others also founded what today is the Chavez Foundation, to transform communities.

It has built and renovated—and manages—close to 6,000 units of high quality affordable housing for families and seniors over four states—nearly $1 billion invested in disadvantaged communities. It entertains, educates, and encourages community engagement through our Communications Group—nine radio stations in four states with more than one million listeners. It develops future leaders and helps close the achievement gap through educational programs, products, and services. And it runs the National Chavez Center to preserve and educate people about César’s legacy and values.

Does this mean César stopped working with Filipino farmworkers after the strike was over?

Marc: Not at all. From the beginning, the UFW and César Chavez Foundation worked closely with Filipino farmworkers — the manongs. Are you familiar with the term?

No, what does that mean? 

Marc: Well, most of the Filipino immigrants from that generation came to the U.S. in their teens and twenties in the 1920s and ‘30s. Since California’s racist anti-miscegenation laws banned inter-racial marriage and Filipino women were not imported, most were denied the right to marry, to have families, and most had no choice but to live as bachelors.

By the end of the five-year-long Delano Grape Strike in 1970, many of these men were in their sixties and seventies. Some did return to work under the protections of UFW contracts, but many were too old for farm labor. They had lived in farm labor camps for decades, were evicted during the strike, and had no decent places to live.

This gave rise to the Paulo Agbayani Retirement Village — the first ever retirement home for Filipino farmworkers built by the farm worker movement on our Forty Acres property in Delano in 1973-74. It was built with all volunteer labor, including many Asian American college students, some who volunteered days, weeks, and months of free labor. There’s a plaque on the wall of the recreation area with names of all of the volunteers who built it. Congresswoman Judy Chu from Los Angeles is on that plaque.

Wow, I had no idea. Tell me more about the village. 

Marc: Many of the manongs — many veterans of the Delano Grape Strike — were able to live out the rest of their years in comfort and security. They had a garden where they grew their own vegetables, a recreation room, and an industrial kitchen that served three meals of Filipino cuisine every day. Across the way was the movement’s Rodrigo Toronto Memorial Health Clinic, where they could access health services, and a service center where they could get help with Social Security and other benefits.

The last Filipino brother who lived there died in 1989, but we continue to administer the village, preserve it with historical artifacts and photos, and host visitors there from all over the country and around the world. Many Filipino Americans say they consider this as sacred ground. We have a long-range plan of turning it into a museum of Filipino American history.

This is such an important piece of Filipino American History — and I can’t believe I’m hearing about it for the first time. Let me ask you a final question. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I wonder if you can share a lesson you learned from César Chavez — something that you think the movement can benefit from moving forward. 

Marc: César believed the union had to be more than just an economic institution; it had to champion the causes of other struggling workers and oppressed people. Sometimes, he took unpopular stands. He came out against the Vietnam War when many national labor leaders supported it. He unequivocally embraced LGBTQ rights starting in the ‘70s, long before it was popular. I met Harvey Milk accompanying César as his personal aide to events in San Francisco. His idea of leadership was not following the crowd, but getting out in front of the crowd.

About AAPI Hate

Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition fighting against racism and racial injustice targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Together, we work with local communities and government stakeholders to document the rise of anti-AAPI hate and dismantle the systems that allow it to persist. To learn more, visit

Credit: This article was originally published by Stop AAPI Hate.


Chavez Foundation Breaks Ground on High-Quality Affordable Housing Community in Montebello, Calif

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High-quality, affordable housing community in Montebello named for pioneering labor-community activist J.J. Rodriguez

Montebello, CA – Vista de J.J. Rodriguez, a new affordable housing community in Montebello with 63 units for families, including supportive units for survivors of domestic violence, will be dedicated on Friday, June 2 by the Cesar Chavez Foundation in partnership with the Downtown Women’s Center, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit serving and empowering currently and formerly homeless women. It is named for a pioneering Los Angeles labor and community leader who was a key colleague and supporter of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez dating back to the 1950s.

“We’re pleased to break ground on our first affordable housing community in Montebello to address the needs of Latinos and working families,” said Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez. “It’s fitting to name this property after J.J. Rodriguez, a dedicated veteran activist in Los Angeles who was an early champion of the Chicano movement.”

The total development cost for the project is $46.7 million. The project received $27.1 million in Tax Credit Proceeds, which will be in partnership with PNC Financial Services. In addition, the project received $4 million from the City of Montebello in the form of a City Land & Impact Fee Loan and $549,000 in the form of a City Development Loan. The project received $2 million in Affordable Housing Trust Funds from the Los Angeles County Development Authority as well as 31 project-based vouchers. The California Department of Housing and Community Development is investing $2.5 million through its Infill Infrastructure Grant Program. The San Gabriel Valley Regional Housing Trust is investing $1.7 million into the project. Lastly, a Permanent Loan of $8.7 million was done in partnership with City National Bank.

“We stand proudly alongside the Cesar Chavez Foundation as a funder and provider of project-based vouchers for this development,” said Emilio Salas, LACDA executive director. “It is an honor to be part of an effort that will not only bring much needed housing to the community, but that will also recognize the legacy of an individual who fought for many years on behalf of the Latino community.”

Vista de J.J. Rodriguez will house a Si Se Puede Learning Center, Chavez Foundation’s flagship afterschool program for young residents, a playground, and multi-use community space. Chavez Foundation and its partners will provide ongoing property management and supportive services for all residents, including social services for survivors of domestic violence through a partnership with the Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center.

Keeping with the tradition of the farm worker movement, the project memorializes the late J.J. Rodriguez’s lifetime of advocacy for social, labor, and civil rights. He began organizing City of Vernon packinghouse workers in 1928 and helped build their long-dominant packinghouse workers’ union. During the 1950s, Rodriguez was an important activist and leader in Los Angeles with Cesar Chavez in the Community Service Organization Latino civil rights group. For years, he served as president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. When Rodriguez died in 1991, Cesar eulogized his friend as a “pioneering trade unionist who fought many early battles of the Chicano movement.”


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






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.