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First- and second-graders at Pinewood Elementary School honor César Chávez during an assembly commemorating his birthday.

By Elvia Perez Cano and Samuel Gilstrap
Office of Communications

Joining observances taking place around L.A. Unified and across the nation, students at Pinewood Elementary School held a special assembly to mark the birthday Friday of César E. Chávez, the late civil rights activist and a prominent figure in Latino-American history.

“Learning about Cesar Chavez is vital to our community because he is a part of California’s history,” said Pinewood Principal Patricia Puccio. “He is a hero that our students can relate to.”

Affected by the celebration, Pinewood students reflected on what Chávez meant to them and their communities.

“César Chávez was a very good man, because he helped crop workers when they were not being treated fairly,” said first-grader Hazel Cordova.

Added second-grader Geovanni Reyes, “César Chávez was important, because he helped change the law, because farm workers were not treated well.”

Chávez is known for his contributions to social justice and equality, his pioneering efforts affecting the well-being of farm workers across the nation. He co-founded the United Farm Workers Union in 1962 to dispute what many believed was unjust treatment of workers in the fields. The first of its kind, the labor union served to empower workers who spent hours in fields often enduring harsh environments. For over 30 years, Chavez mobilized peaceful demonstrations to attain fair wages, medical and pension benefits and humane living conditions for farmworkers.

Chávez’ birthday is commemorated as a state holiday in California, Colorado and Texas. Schools around the U.S. have been named after him, including L.A. Unified’s César Chávez Elementary School in El Sereno and César E. Chávez Learning Academies in San Fernando.

The L.A. Unified Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution this month honoring Chávez’ life and legacy, acknowledging him as an American hero and encouraging students, employees and community members to implement service learning projects based on his life, work and values.

“Cesar Chavez broke the cycle of hopelessness that existed in farm workers’ families,” said Pinewood second-grade teacher Josefina Trujillo-Gomez. “He taught us to organize for what’s right. Sí, se puede!”