PHOENIX — City of Phoenix offices are closed on Thursday in observance of Cesar Chavez Day.
Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona. He was known for holding hunger strikes, fighting for equal pay and equal rights for farmworkers. Chavez famously fasted at the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix, protesting an Arizona law limiting their rights. Chavez founded the United Farm Workers Association in 1962.
Thursday would’ve been his 95th birthday.
“He was out there every day fighting to improve the lives of others and I think that’s what we can do ourselves,” said Nick Valenzuela, with the city of Phoenix. “Get out, volunteer, do something good for your community.”
Valenzuela serves on the board for the Phoenix Hispanic Network, a network that provides resources for city employees.
He says he first learned about Chavez from his father, a longtime fire chief for the city of Mesa.
“When I asked him why he does the things that he does and goes out and supports the community, he mentioned Cesar Chavez,” Valenzuela said. “So I did a whole book report on him in the 8th grade, and it was one of the coolest moments because I was able to go up in front of the class and say, this is Cesar Chavez. You probably don’t know about him, but this is who he is and this is why he inspires me.”
Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen has plaques and a sculpture dedicated to Chavez. Construction is underway for a community center on the property that will also bear his name.
Chicanos Por La Causa is holding an event on Thursday in honor of Chavez starting at 2 p.m. at the Santa Rita Center in Phoenix.