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House Joint Resolution

WHEREAS, The State of Illinois recognizes certain dates of the year for honoring specific patriotic, civic, cultural, and historical persons, activities, or events; and

WHEREAS, March 31 is the birthday of Cesar E. Chavez, (1927-1993); and

WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez steadfastly believed that ordinary people can make extraordinary social change when they are individually guided by, and bound together by, universal values and a common vision for a better world; the values he strove for include: service to others, sacrifice, a preference to help the most needy, determination, non-violence, tolerance, respect for life, celebrating community, knowledge and innovation; and

WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez began his labor career in the early 1950s as an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO); his work for the CSO included coordinating voter registration drives, battling racial and economic discrimination against Chicano residents, and organizing new chapters of the CSO in California and Arizona; he went on to serve as national director of the CSO in the late 1950s and early 1960s; and

WHEREAS, After failing to convince the CSO to help migrant farm workers in their union organizing efforts, he quit his job with the CSO and founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA); in 1965, the NFWA, with 1,200 member families, joined an AFL-CIO-sponsored union in a strike against Delano growers; in 1966, the two unions merged to form the United Farm Workers (UFW); in 1968, he conducted a 25-day fast to reaffirm the UFW's commitment to non-violence; the NFW's boycott against grape growers persuaded the growers to sign contracts with the UFW in 1970; however, after contract renegotiations in 1973, the growers signed contracts with the Teamsters; the farm workers objected to the Teamster contract, and more that 10,000 of them walked off their jobs; and

WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez then called for a world-wide boycott of grapes; by 1975, a poll showed that 17 million Americans supported the boycott; the boycott persuaded growers to support the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act; and

WHEREAS, In 1982, Republican George Deukmajian was elected Governor of California; under Governor Deukmajian's leadership, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board ceased to enforce the Agricultural Labor Relations Act; in 1988, Cesar Chavez conducted a 36-day "Fast for Life" to protest the pesticide poisoning of farm workers; and

WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez died in 1993; in 1994, President Clinton posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom; he became the second Mexican-American to receive this award; and

WHEREAS, In 1994, the family of Cesar Chavez and the officers of the United Farm Workers created the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation to "inspire current and future generations by promoting the ideals of Cesar Chavez's life"; and

WHEREAS, Cesar Chavez spent 31 years forging a legacy of service, conviction and principled leadership that served as a beacon for Americans; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-THIRD GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, THE SENATE CONCURRING HEREIN, that we recognize March 31 as Cesar Chavez Day in Illinois and encourage public and private entities throughout the State to celebrate the birthday of this great man.