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Cesar E. Chavez Social Justice March educates community members

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The Cesar E. Chavez Social Justice March highlighted ways in which literacy education promotes employment equity.
Cesar E. Chavez March for Social Justice

Cesar E. Chavez March for Social Justice /Literacy Center of West Michigan

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You can be a part of the solution!

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed.  You cannot unneducate the person who has learned to read."

~Cesar E. Chavez

If you are passionate about helping to improve literacy rates and opportunity for employment in Grand Rapids, consider becoming a volunteer tutor!  For more information, call the Literacy Center at 459-5151.

/Literacy Center of West Michigan

Potter's House students honored Chavez by reciting quotes in Spanish and English at the Community Gathering

Potter's House students honored Chavez by reciting quotes in Spanish and English at the Community Gathering /Literacy Center of West Michigan

By Lindsay McHolme, Community Literacy Liaison

Cesar E. Chavez

Dignitaries, community members, and students gathered together at the Hispanic Center of West Michigan Thursday morning for the 11th annual Cesar E. Chavez Social Justice March and Community Gathering.  The event honored Cesar E. Chavez, nonviolent civil rights leader and founder of United Farm Workers of America.

According to the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, Chavez dropped out of school after eighth grade to work as a migrant worker.  As a result of the injustices he experienced and observed in the fields, he became a community organizer and social activitist for the rights of farm workers in the United States.  After his death in 1993, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  His famous motto, "¡Si se puede!" ("It can be done!"), lives on as motivation for social change.      

Social Justice March

Students lined Grandville Avenue, brandishing flags representing Mexico, the United States, Uruguay and other Latin American countries.  The crowd chanted "¡Si se puede!" and "¡Que viva Chavez!" ("Long live Chavez!").  The sunny, forward-looking march culminated in a community gathering at the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

This year, the event celebrated the "boicoteros" ("boycott organizers") who, through the Farm Workers Union, helped Chavez bring dignity and justice to the lives of farm workers.    

Community Gathering

During the Community Gathering, Holy Name students carried baskets of produce to the front of the church in honor of the nation's poorest farm workers.  Potter's House students honored Chavez's mission, quoting in Spanish and English his inspirational points on culture, violence, and education. 

Education and Workforce Equity

"Our language is the reflection of ourselves.  A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers," said Chavez.

The bilingual student speakers at the gathering reflected a light of hope on the future of Grand Rapids.  More than ever, literacy education--whether in reading or language--is one of the key factors in creating workforce equity.  Employers are looking for literate, articulate, and sometimes bilingual employees.  The most helpful thing we can do as a community is provide education in these areas.  

¡Si se puede!

Events such as this march show just how much the Grand Rapids area has already invested in education toward workforce equity and remind us to keep pushing forward.  ¡Si se puede! 


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