The Hispanic Faculty/Staff Association held a ceremony honoring Cesar Chavez in front of his statue on the West Mall Thursday afternoon.
The ceremony, held on Cesar Chavez Day, opened with a brief message about his legacy, followed by a playing of the song “De colores” from the tower bells. In closing, red carnations were distributed to those in attendance, who placed the flowers at the base of the statue.
Chavez is known as a social justice activist who fought for the rights of farm laborers and minorities. He and his followers used nonviolent means such as boycotts, marches and hunger strikes to advance their cause and pave the way for farmers to unionize. Chavez, who was born in Arizona to Mexican immigrant parents, died in 1993.
HFSA staff co-chair Cindy Cruz said the ceremony held special significance to her because of ties to her own family.
“To me, it speaks volumes because my grandparents were migrant farm workers and my dad was a farm laborer, so I thought it was very important for HFSA to recognize our heritage and culture,” Cruz said.
The HFSA officers also distributed informational flyers about the life and legacy of Chavez to students passing by the statue. The flyer described Chavez as “a unique example to live our lives by.” One of the flyer recipients, history and government junior Jennifer Mendez, said she appreciated HFSA’s efforts to educate people about Chavez.
“I think they were able to be really informational with the flyers they handed out without being too pushy about the topic,” Mendez said. “I think it was very positive and beneficial overall.”
HFSA staff co-chair elect Jay Guevara said educating the public about figures such as Chavez is important to the progress of our nation.
“Every UT student should know about [civil rights leaders] because they are part of American history and they’ve molded and shaped what we are today,” Guevara said. “This is a way to make sure that...every time we try to take a step forward, we don’t want to take two steps back because people forget [the past].”
Guevara said the main takeaway from Chavez’s life is to stand up for what is right, even if it seems difficult.
“You should fight against the wrongs in the world right now, but be reminded that you have to work at it because it’s an uphill battle,” Guevara said.