With Hispanic community leaders from Michigan gathered around her, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation on December 3, 2003 that establishes March 31 as Cesar E. Chavez Day in Michigan. The day commemorates the late civil rights and labor leader who died in 1993.
Senate Bill No. 352 – PDF
Program – 90kb PDF
“Cesar Chavez serves as an inspiration not only to the Hispanic community but to all people who work to improve their communities by fighting discrimination, working for economic equality, and ensuring safe and fair working conditions,” Granholm said. “I am pleased to sign this legislation today that recognizes a true American leader and hero.”
Granholm and the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), participated in a celebratory bill signing at the Cristo Rey Community Center in Lansing. The Cristo Rey center provides programs and services to the area’s Hispanic community.
“Cesar Chavez is not only a hero to the Hispanic community but to all people who labor and dream for peace, social justice, and dignity,” said Senator Thomas. “This legislation is long overdue. Cesar E. Chavez’s legacy has touched us all, and this fitting recognition will continue to inform future generations of his accomplishments.”
Chavez founded the United Farm Workers of America in 1962 as a way to help farm workers improve their working conditions and wages. He employed nonviolent tactics such as boycotts, strikes, and pickets to make people more aware of the working and wage conditions of farm workers.
The legislation also establishes July 14 as Gerald R. Ford Day, and July 30 as Henry Ford Day. These dates join several other commemorative days that have been established in Michigan, including, Rosa L. Parks Day on February 4, John F. Kennedy Day on May 29, and Casimir Pulaski Day on October 11.
For the record MCL 435.301 states:
Sec. 1. (1) The legislature recognizes the fundamental contribution that Cesar E. Chavez made to this nation by organizing farm workers to campaign for safe and fair working conditions, reasonable wages, decent housing, and the outlawing of child labor. Cesar E. Chavez began working in the fields of Arizona and California at the age of 10. Profoundly influenced by these humble beginnings, Chavez embraced the nonviolent principles of Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to crusade against racial and economic discrimination, coordinate voter registration drives, and found the united farm workers of America. In 1994, Chavez was posthumously awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to civilians by the United States government. In memory of this great American, the legislature declares that March 31 of each year shall be known as “Cesar E. Chavez Day”.
(2) The legislature encourages each individual in the great state of Michigan to pause on Cesar E. Chavez day and reflect upon the courage and sacrifice of a man Robert Kennedy once referred to as “one of the heroic figures of our time”.