President Obama travels to Kern County to honor Cesar Chavez

President Barack Obama traveled to La Paz in Keene Monday to honor the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, who fought for the rights of migrant farm workers across the nation and in Kern County.

President Barack Obama traveled to La Paz in Keene Monday to honor the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez.

Chavez fought for the rights of migrant farmworkers across the nation and in Kern County.

He spent the later part of his life in Keene, where thousands gathered to honor Chavez, who dedicated his life to improving the lives of others.

"Today La Paz joins a long line of national monuments stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon, monuments that tell the story of who we are as Americans," said President Obama.

Chavez fought for higher wages and better working conditions for farmworkers, like Maria Magana. She was one of the United Farm Worker's first members in the early 1960's.

"This day I feel so, so happy because it's a true, true dream. The President of the United States is here, and all kinds of people, whites, blacks, browns, all kinds of colors and it's a good, nice dream," said Magana.

Chavez's dream to help others expanded in 1971 when he moved the UFW headquarters from Delano to La Paz in the foothills of the Tehachapi mountains.

"It was a place where men and women labored for decades in the fight for social justice," explained Paul Chavez, President, Cesar Chavez Foundation.

President Obama talked about that fight and the non-violent methods Chavez used during fasts, protests, and boycotts.

"In his own peaceful, eloquent way, he made other people care too," he explained.

Chavez made people care by marching from Delano to Sacramento fighting for higher wages, after a separate boycott in Delano helped farmworkers get some of their first contracts.

It was evident at the dedication ceremony, Chavez may be best known for his slogan, "Si Se Puede", which is Spanish for "Yes, it is possible."

"For Cesar, Si Se Puede wasn't just a slogan. He believed in us. He believed each farmworker can change the world," said Arturo Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers.

The dedication marks a new chapter for La Paz in Keene. It is a place where Chavez's movement will live on.

"Cesar used to say if my work stops when I die then all that I've done would be in vain, and yet we see it continuing and it's been almost 20 years since he passed away," said Rodriguez.

Chavez is buried at La Paz in a rose garden at the foot of a hill he often climbed to watch the sunrise.

Now, his life and legacy will be shared with the country through the National Park Service and his new national monument in Kern County.

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