Reinforcing César Chávez’s values

Luis Muñoz

Photo By Vic cantu

César Chávez Day is celebrated every March 31 as a tribute to the late organizer’s efforts on behalf of workers’ rights and fair treatment for all. Luis Muñoz is the 20-year-old Chico State director of University Affairs for MEChA, a multicultural group dedicated to many of Chávez’s ideals.

How should César Chávez Day be celebrated?

It should be a time when people show respect for what Chávez did to gain just wages, working conditions and treatment for everyone. It should also be a time for people to show unity with each other no matter their race, gender or nationality.

How do you view the massive partying of many students dressed in traditional Mexican costumes?

I think it’s disrespectful to what César Chávez Day is really all about.

What would be a better way to celebrate?

People can participate in one of MEChA’s events. March for Justice takes place in downtown Chico on March 30, the day before the official Chávez holiday. It commemorates Chávez’s 340-mile California march in support of farm workers’ rights. Our “Teach Outs” are 40 classroom sessions on César Chávez Day where we teach students in grade schools, middle schools and high schools all about Chávez and his impact on today’s society.

A third event is Cats in the Community on Chávez Day from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. put on by Chico State’s [Associated Students]—events where groups of Chico State students give back to the community by performing services like canned-food drives, trash pick-up, yard work, and helping the elderly.

What is MEChA and why did you get involved?

It is a student organization that stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. I really liked its guiding principles of equal access to higher education, equality for all, promotion of safe sex, and empowerment for the LGBT community.

Can anyone join MEChA?

Absolutely. It started out in 1969 with just Mexican-Americans but has expanded to include Chicanos and Chicanas, which is anyone who embraces the MEChA principles. Even our campus adviser, Susan Green, who is Caucasian, is considered a Chicana.

What do you say to those who accuse MEChA of being racist?

It’s not true. We’ve heard it from many people like the members of the local Tea Party and the Chico State Republicans, because we’re very vocal at demonstrations like the anti-war and anti-budget-cut rallies. Anyone who is suspicious of us is welcome to attend our meetings and events.