“We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens this community — and this nation.” – Cesar Chavez

On March 31, Fresno Unified and the larger community gathered in commemoration of Cesar E. Chavez’s birthday at the Fresno Adult School for the unveiling of a breathtaking mural which paid tribute to Chavez’s legacy.

The artwork depicts Cesar Chavez with a warm and proud expression, surrounded by vibrant colors and symbols that are representative of his unwavering accomplishments that still endure to this day and have paved the way for people of color, farm workers, and our community. 

Cesar Estrada Chavez was a Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist who devoted much of his life to improving the working conditions, wages, and treatment of farm workers in California through the use of nonviolent resistance as practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

As a migrant farm worker, Cesar Chavez experienced firsthand the grueling and difficult working conditions that farm workers endured. These impactful experiences inspired him to become an advocate for the rights of farm workers. 

In 1962, Cesar Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers) in Delano, California which fought tirelessly for improved wages, better working conditions, and labor protections through means of strikes, boycotts, marches, and fasts. 

Through his activism, Cesar Chavez was instrumental in the passing of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, which ensured farm workers the right to collectively unionize and negotiate for better wages and working conditions. 

The mural was designed by local artist and muralist Andrea Torres.

“I wanted to really focus on the story of migration and what that could look like and how it’s different to many people,” Torres said. “The overall theme to me was empowerment and inclusion so I definitely kept that in mind through the entire design process.” 

Torres expressed how important it is to diversify our art especially in empowering spaces such as schools. “I think it’s really important to have this be a history lesson, a storytelling opportunity where our community can learn and continue to grow together,” Torres said.

In addition to the mural unveiling, the celebration featured a performance by the Roosevelt High School Mariachi, a moving poem recited by Fresno High School students, a symbolic march around the perimeter of the Fresno Adult School, and a commemorative garlanding ceremony – all of which paid homage to the hero, Cesar Chavez. 

Torres was also awarded certificates of recognition for her exceptional work in creating a mural that beautifully captured Cesar Chavez in all his glory, reminding us of his profound impact on labor rights and social justice.

Quoting painter and muralist Judy Baca, Torres said, “Murals sing gospel from our streets, preach to us about who we can be, what we fear, and to what we can aspire.”

Gloria Flores (she/her/hers)

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