Cesar Chavez Day

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Cesar Chavez Day
Spanish: Día de César Chávez
Cesar Chavez Day.jpg
Poster commemorating Cesar Chavez Day
Observed by(1) A formal holiday in US states of Arizona, California, Washington, and Utah
(2) An optional holiday in US states of Colorado and Texas, state offices open with limited staffing
(3) A festival day in Nebraska and Nevada
(4) A commemorative proclamation holiday by the United States
DateMarch 31
Next timeMarch 31, 2024 (2024-03)

Cesar Chavez Day (Spanish: Día de César Chávez) is a U.S. federal commemorative holiday, proclaimed by President Barack Obama in 2014.[1] The holiday celebrates the birth and legacy of the civil rights and labor movement activist Cesar Chavez on March 31 every year.

Observances by state[edit]

State Observance
Arizona Observed by City of Phoenix[2] and Tucson.[3]
California State offices and schools closed on March 31[4]
Colorado Declared as an optional holiday on March 31[5]
Minnesota The thirty-first day of March, recognized as Cesar Chavez Day[6]
Texas Declared as an optional holiday on March 31[5]
Utah State offices and school is optional[7]
Washington The thirty-first day of March, recognized as Cesar Chavez Day


César Chávez in 1974

Cesar Chavez (born Cesar Estrada Chavez, locally [ˈsesaɾ esˈtɾaða ˈtʃaβes]; March 31, 1927 – April 23, 1993) was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW).[8]

It is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of Cesar Chavez's life and work. Some state government offices, community colleges, libraries, and public schools are closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona (official holiday in the city of Phoenix, Arizona) and Colorado. Americans are urged to "regard this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez's enduring legacy."[9] In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado).[10]



On March 31, 2008, while a senator, Barack Obama endorsed the idea of creating a national holiday in Chavez's honor: "Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union."[11] Grassroots organizations continued to urge creation of such a national holiday; and, on March 30, 2011, Obama as president reiterated his support: "Cesar Chavez's legacy provides lessons from which all Americans can learn."[12]

The City of Sacramento has recognized Cesar Chavez's birthday as a City Holiday since 1993 [13]

Cesar Chavez Day has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada's governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day.

On March 28, 2014, President Obama used his authority to proclaim each March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day.[14]

National holiday movement[edit]

Carlos Santana, leader of national movement to declare Cesar Chavez Day a national holiday

Cesar Chavez Day as a national holiday has gained support from musician Carlos Santana, civil rights and labor leaders.[15] Rallies were held in 2006 in Los Angeles with the goal of raising awareness beyond California. Currently, a major obstacle to this day becoming a national holiday is caused by a rule in Congress that prevents bills with national holiday provisions from being introduced. The holiday proposal would need to overcome that obstacle before legislation can be introduced.[16]


The day highlights the legacy of Cesar Chavez, and focuses on Chicano or Mexican Americans efforts in the labor movement.[17] Events surrounding the holiday largely ignore the actions of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, and its Filipino American membership and leadership, who began the Delano grape strike which propelled Cesar Chavez to international notoriety.[18] Due to this Filipino Americans have been critical of the day's focus, which excludes acknowledgement of their history.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Presidential Proclamation – Cesar Chavez Day". whitehouse.gov. March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2016 – via National Archives.
  2. ^ "Cesar Chavez Day (Observed) (City Offices Closed)".
  3. ^ "City Holidays". www.tucsonaz.gov. April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  4. ^ "California Education Code Title 2 Division 3 Part 22 Chapter 2 Article 3". Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Cesar Chavez Day in the United States". www.timeanddate.com.
  6. ^ Coded as MN statute 10.555.
  7. ^ Wilson, Jenny (March 31, 2011). "A Not-Quite National Holiday: Eight States Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day". Time.
  8. ^ "Cesar Chavez". Points of Light. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  9. ^ "Presidential Proclamation—Cesar Chavez Day". whitehouse.gov. March 30, 2011 – via National Archives.
  10. ^ Cesar Chavez Day in United States
  11. ^ Barack Obama calls for National Holiday for Cesar E. Chavez
  12. ^ "Presidential Proclamation—Cesar Chavez Day", whitehouse.gov, March 30, 2011 – via National Archives
  13. ^ url=http://records.cityofsacramento.org/ViewDoc.aspx?ID=s6tFBnt4W+IfryOBaWQPWjUlw2fqOq//
  14. ^ "Presidential Proclamation – Cesar Chavez Day, 2014", whitehouse.gov, March 28, 2014 – via National Archives
  15. ^ "Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday". www.cesarchavezholiday.org.
  16. ^ Archive, ABC7. "Cesar Chavez supporters rally for a national holiday | ABC7 Los Angeles Archive | abc7.com". ABC7 Los Angeles.
  17. ^ Foner, Nancy; Fredrickson, George M. (April 22, 2004). Not Just Black and White: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Immgiration, Race, and Ethnicity in the United States. Russell Sage Foundation. p. 211. ISBN 978-1-61044-211-4.
    Tatum, Charles M. (September 5, 2017). Chicano Popular Culture, Second Edition: Que Hable El Pueblo. University of Arizona Press. p. 244. ISBN 978-0-8165-3652-8.
    Meier, Matt S.; Gutiérrez, Margo; Gutierrez, Margo (2003). The Mexican American Experience: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-313-31643-2.
    "Cesar Chavez Changed The Way Our Country Treats Immigrant Farm Workers But There's Still A Lot Of Work To Be Done". Mitu. June 12, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
    Clark, Christine (March 21, 2012). "UC San Diego Salutes Cesar Chavez Day with Month of Activities in April". University of California, San Diego. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  18. ^ Rojas, Leslie Berestein (April 1, 2011). "The forgotten history of the Filipino laborers who worked with Cesar Chavez". KPCC. Pasadena. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
    Tabafunda, James (November 22, 2013). "Filipino American organizer's legacy ignored, but not by all". Northwest Asian Weekly. Seattle. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  19. ^ Muriera, Ron P.; Orpilla, Mel (March 28, 2014). "FANHS Speaks Out on the New Film CESAR CHAVEZ". Filipino American National Historical Society. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
    Oh, Hansook (March 27, 2012). "Remembering the Delano Manongs: The Filipinos behind Chavez and Huerta". The Sundial. California State University, Northridge. Retrieved February 27, 2020.

External links[edit]