Organizers of Saturday’s Cesar Chavez march hope that a movie about the civil-rights icon will bring more awareness to his efforts to get fair pay and humane working conditions for farm laborers.
Chavez, whose birthday is Monday, organized farmworkers through peaceful protests and boycotts in the 1960s and 1970s. He and Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers.
Supporters say Chavez’s message still resonates.
“We are human beings and deserving of respect, equal pay and humane working conditions,” said Richard Gonzales, chairman of the Tarrant County Cesar Chavez March/Rally Committee.
Supporters of the labor organizer will march Saturday in downtown Fort Worth and finish with a rally.
The tributes come as Chavez’s life story is told in the movie Cesar Chavez: History Is Made One Step at a Time, which was screened this week at theaters nationwide, including in Fort Worth.
“This movie, I’m very passionate about it because I grew up in that era,” said Toni Ruiz, 60, a Fort Worth resident whose parents were farmworkers in California during the movement.
Growing up in Porterville, Calif., Ruiz worked in the fields and took part in protests. “Everybody got involved,” she said.
Organizers of the rally said they hope it gets a boost from the movie. The march/rally, which has taken place in Fort Worth since 2001, typically draws about 200 people.
Supporters said people should learn about Chavez’s work and his place in history. The push continues for a national day of service in his honor.
“The movie has just risen Cesar Chavez’s status all over the country,” Gonzales said. “It’s really going to bring him to life again.”
Chavez, who died in 1993, would have turned 87 this year.
If he were alive today, Chavez would address child labor issues and the widening income gap between heads of corporations and workers, Gonzales said.
“We have such great income inequality,” Gonzales said. “If Cesar Chavez were alive, he would speak against that. … There is just such an income gap and it is widening and widening.”