Students Organize and Lead the 14th Annual Cesar Chavez March in Sacramento
Despite the rain, over the 1,000 students, union members, and other workers marched on Saturday, March 29, in the 14th annual Cesar Chavez Day celebration in Sacramento. The march has taken place since 2000 and was founded by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LACLAA). Starting at Southside Park, the marchers proceeded to Cesar Chavez plaza in downtown Sacramento for a rally. The marchers turned out to voice concerns regarding social justice issues in their local and state communities. These issues include immigration rights, a higher minimum wage, lower student fees, greater student access to classes, and resistance to the privatization of public resources.
As the largest labor rally in Sacramento every year, the Chavez march was also attended by local labor leaders from a variety of unions, such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Los Rios Colleges Federation of Teachers (LRCFT). Local elected officials such as Roger Dickinson, Democrat from the Seventh District of the California Assembly and campaigning for the Sixth District of the California Senate, provided commentary from the microphone throughout the morning.
But the highlight of the day was hearing from students whose numbers and enthusiasm dominated the event. Several hundred college and high school students from across the state, including Los Rios and Sacramento State, took part to let local elected officials know about their concerns. Students from Sacramento State were instrumental in organizing the march. A dozen students from Cosumnes River College marched with the LRCFT and held the union banner. CRC student Caitlin McKenna, who attended the march as part of a class project, had this to say:
“Even through all the rain that day everyone was still positive and ready to publicize these issues. Everyone at the march was very determined and ready to have their voices heard. I had never participated in a march like this before and it encouraged me to be involved next year. After taking part in the march I learned that there needs to be more involvement from students. Many students are facing these issues and if they were to participate they could receive information to help them.”
Tanya Reyes, a student organizer and founder of the Indigenous Club at Cosumnes River College, stated:
“I went to the march to honor Cesar Chavez and because he gave a voice to those who were too afraid to use their own voice. He opened the door for the next generation to lead. I learned that the struggle is never over and that this generation is also paving the way for the future. The reason why I march is to honor the Chicano community which is a part of me and which is a part of my ancestral struggle.”
After the event was over, students, families, and local leaders remained in the plaza and discussed the legacy of Chavez and the strategies needed to achieve greater social justice in our community.