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Honoring farm labor leader Cesar Chavez

Monday, April 01, 2013

It looked like a busy day at the Fresno County Hall of Records, but those coming found the doors locked. There were no signs posted but the place was closed for the Cesar Chavez Holiday. Catching many who came to pay taxes or do other business unprepared.

"I didn't know it was a holiday," said Leilani Shrmizu. "No idea." She came to get a copy of her marriage certificate.

Ron Reise of Laton came to pay taxes. He wasn't aware of the holiday. "I didn't know that, no."

While the actual day was quiet in Fresno, a Cesar Chavez march was recently held downtown, and another event is planned this week at Fresno State.

We asked dignitaries who were gathered on the grounds of the county building for another event about Cesar Chavez day.

"It's a significant day for the Hispanic community throughout our country," said Congressman Jim Costa. "When you look at the totality of the work that he dedicated his life for there were improvements that were very real improvements you can see."

Orange Cove City Council Member and former Mayor, Victor Lopez says Chavez legacy should never be forgotten.

"Orange Cove was the first city in the State of California to honor Cesar's birthday and today we are honoring his birthday," said Lopez. "Cesar is one of the most important leader that we've ever had in our lives."

But Chavez is not beloved by all. Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League says Chavez' tactics weren't always nonviolent.

"I know our organization was founded on the premise that of taking on Cesar Chavez because of the picketing," said Cunha. "Many of the picketing was destruction of farm equipment the cutting down of trees."

And for him, it's not a holiday.

"A lot of people are not celebrating Cesar Chavez day," said Cunha.

But it may be surprising to know it was not a holiday at the offices of the Cesar Chavez foundation. Josie Amesquita manages the organizations property management office in Fresno.

"We work on Cesar Chavez day every year in honor of Cesar Chavez so as his company as employees we all work," said Amesquita. "No matter what department no matter what part of the organization we are in we always work in his honor."

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