Padilla, Ruiz Introduce Legislation to Create the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Park

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Representative Raul Ruiz (both D-Calif.) introduced bicameral legislation to create the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park. This bill would preserve the nationally significant sites associated with César E. Chávez and the farmworker movement in California and Arizona. The legislation is cosponsored by Senator Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representatives Grijalva and Gallego (both D-Ariz.).

“Our National Park System tells the story of our nation and preserves the people, ideas, and movements that we value as Americans,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “Establishing the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park will pay proper homage to a Latino icon and civil rights leader who fought tirelessly for the dignity, respect, and equal treatment of farmworkers and to the movement he created that carries on today. Our country is special because of our diversity and our never-ending endeavor for justice—yet our park system does not adequately preserve the full culture and diverse legacy of all Americans. I am proud to partner with the César Chávez Foundation to honor our uniquely American heritage so that more Americans can see themselves in our national parks and be inspired by the leaders who came before them.”

“Growing up the son of farmworkers in the Coachella Valley, I remember seeing César Chávez and the sense of hope he gave to our communities and farmworkers across the United States. His story still inspires and motivates me even today,” said Dr. Ruiz. “It is crucial that we amplify the stories of communities whose history too often gets left untold. My legislation with Senator Padilla, the César E. Chávez and the Farmworker Movement National Historical Park Act, will help the National Park Service embrace their role as storytellers of our nation and reflect the diversity and richness of our people.”

“Establishment of a Cesar E. Chavez and the Farmworker Movement National Historic Park would pay tribute to one of the most influential leaders in U.S. history, but just as important it would recognize all the women and men who helped create and shape the movement,” said Cesar Chavez Foundation President Paul F. Chavez. “It would teach Americans from all walks of life about what transformational leaders and activists could achieve in their struggle for civil rights and social justice.”

César E. Chávez is a Latino icon and civil rights leader, labor leader, and community organizer whose legacy is intricately connected to the story of California, the farmworker movement, and the push for worker and civil rights. Chávez empowered Latinos and farm workers to fight for fair wages, health care coverage, pension benefits, housing improvements, and countless other protections for their well-being. His commitment to social justice has inspired countless generations, and fuels our ongoing efforts to improve the lives of all people, regardless of their ethnicity or the color of their skin.

The hundreds of sites that are part of the National Park system preserve our natural, historical, and cultural heritage while offering vital spaces for teaching, learning, and outdoor recreation. While the National Park Service embraces their role as “America’s storytellers”, we know that too few national park units primarily focus on women, communities of color, or other historically marginalized groups. Through the sites preserved by this bill, we can ensure that the National Park System better represents the diverse history of our nation. As a farm worker himself, César Chávez maintained a strong connection to the natural environment; and this bill uplifts his story, and those of others whose contributions helped build the farmworker and civil rights movements that are pillars of American history.

What the bill would do:

  • Upon written agreement by the site owner, the Department of Interior would be authorized to include McDonnell Hall in San Jose, California as part of the National Historical Park.
  • Designate the approximately 300-mile march route taken by farmworkers between Delano and Sacramento in 1966 as a National Historic Trail.
  • Require the Department of Interior to complete a general management plan for the historical park within three years.

Congress enacted bipartisan legislation from Senator John McCain and Representative Hilda Solis in 2018 to direct the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of sites that are significant to the life of César Chávez and the farm labor movement in the western United States. President Obama established the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, California in 2012 to recognize César Chávez and the farmworker movement’s achievements and contributions to the history of our nation.

The National Park Service transmitted the final Special Resource Study to Congress in 2013. The study team evaluated over 100 sites significant to Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement in the western United States, finding that several were nationally significant and depicted a distinct and important aspect of American history associated with civil rights and labor movements that is not adequately represented or protected elsewhere. While the NPS included five potential management alternatives to protect these sites, they ultimately recommended Congress establish a National Historical Park that would incorporate nationally significant sites in California and Arizona related to the life of Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement.

A list of endorsing organizations can be found HERE.

A full list of supporter quotes can be found HERE.

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.

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