Honoring a legacy of activism on Cesar Chavez Day

March 31, 2021

The following content first appeared on the news page while UMass Global operated under its former name of Brandman University.

In March, the Office of Equity & Inclusion shared and received stories highlighting the lived experiences of women shaping U.S. history and making a global impact. The office continues to explore the histories of those who have contributed to the legacy of advocacy and equality for all, on this Cesar Chavez national day of observance.
After receiving community input, the OEI compiled a selection of resources about the life and work of Cesar Chavez as well as the accomplishments of Dolores Huerta, Alicia Escalante, and Sylvia Rivera, women who have contributed to a legacy of advancement through their lives' missions, writings and advocacy. Begin here to learn more about their efforts, their humanity, where they struggled and where they succeeded.
Cesar E. Chavez National Observance: Presidential Proclamation, 2014 "After returning from naval service during World War II, Cesar Chavez fought for freedom in American agricultural fields. In 1966, he led a march that began in Delano, California, with a handful of activists and ended in Sacramento with a crowd 10,000 strong. A grape boycott eventually drew 17 million supporters nationwide, forcing growers to accept some of the first farm worker contracts in history. A generation of organizers rose to carry that legacy forward."
Dolores Huerta: National Women’s History Museum “Huerta began her career as an activist when she co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization ... In 1962, Huerta and Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor of the United Farm Workers’ Union (UFW), which formed three years later. Huerta served as UFW vice president until 1999.”

Alicia Escalante: Chicana por mi Raza "A single mother of five, she was swallowed by poverty and thus began to recognize the Welfare system as punitive and oppressive. Alicia felt that the women forced to seek services were never treated with any dignity or respect. This would drive her to become involved with the Chicano Movement and eventually to create the East LA Welfare Rights Organization in 1967. She was able to get the organization started with the assistance of her family practitioner, Doctor Carlo. He set her up with an office and phone where she was able to begin mobilizing the community on welfare rights issues surrounding medical and services cuts. Alicia was concerned about the mistreatment of women, specifically Blacks and Latinas, who found themselves on welfare “through no fault of their own.”

Sylvia Rivera: National Women’s History Museum “A veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Inn uprising, Sylvia Rivera was a tireless advocate for those silenced and disregarded by larger movements. Throughout her life, she fought against the exclusion of transgender people, especially transgender people of color, from the larger movement for gay rights.”

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