Hundreds of Albuquerque residents united Saturday morning to commemorate the life of a hero of workers’ rights. The March for Justice, which began at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, was a part of the center’s 21st annual César Chávez day. Attendees walked the loop downtown and marched 2.5 miles in Chávez’s honor.
Sayrah Namaste, co-chair of the Recuerda a César Chávez Committee, which has helped to organize the event for the last four years, said the march aimed to memorialize the struggles of workers who fought for their rights.
“I think it’s an important part of our history, to remember American heroes like César Chávez,” Namaste said. “We’re all workers, so being able to celebrate what workers did to stand up for better wages, better working conditions and against exploitation is a part of the American story.”
Namaste said the march centered around community issues, and that it is not exclusive to the movement that César Chávez spearheaded.
“The event itself is about honoring César Chávez and the farm worker movement and the idea of social justice, human rights, worker rights, labor rights and immigrant rights,” Namaste said. “But it is a community march, and so whatever is happening in the community is reflected in the march. There are a lot of people here talking about immigration reform. We also see people today who are talking about police brutality.”
Attendees of the march included students, veterans, bands, school groups, political figures and entire families.
Consuelo Gonzalez, a junior law student at UNM and co-president of the Mexican-American Law Student Association at UNM’s School of Law, said her organization was among those marching for the event. She said one of the march’s most important goals is to raise awareness about César Chávez and all that he did for the community and for the state.
“I have a younger sister who is a freshman in college and began a class in which the professor asked, ‘How many of you know who César Chávez was?,’” she said. “She was the only one who raised her hand. I think here in New Mexico we have an obligation to commemorate this individual who stood up for what has developed this community.”
During the march, attendees raised signs stating, “¡Si se puede!,” “Take a stand!” and “Go César!”
Amaru O’Brien, 6, marched along Eighth Street carrying a sign that read “Viva la causa.” He was one of many young children taking part in the event.
O’Brien said he enjoyed the march, and he was there to recognize the amazing man César Chávez was.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s to celebrate a man who was a very good person.”
Chuy Martinez, 61, one of the original founders of the Recuerda a César Chávez Committee, said the young generation is vital to the movement and its future. Martinez said it is important for students and for young people to be aware of current events and issues relevant to today’s society and community.
“It is the students and the young people who need to keep this alive,” Martinez said, “We need that generation to get educated on all the social issues, not just the farm workers issues — every issue that is going on right now.”