Publication: San Antonio Express; Date: Mar 30, 2014; Section: Main; Page: A3
Empowering march attracts thousands
Annual event honors labor leader Chávez
By Leezia Dhalla STAFF WRITER
Civil rights and labor leaders in San Antonio have honored the legacy of farmworker organizer César Chávez with anannual march through downtown for 18 years.
The city is already home to the largest march in the country honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and to huge paradesduring Fiesta.
On Saturday, the César E. Chávez March for Justice made its imprint on the city with 25,000 people marching fromthe West Side to the Alamo, the largest crowd in the history of the event.
“We’re marching for a purpose. People are coming together to empower (each other),” said longtime labor activistJaime Martinez, founder of the César E. Chávez Legacy and Educational Foundation.
Before the march, a praise and worship service was held near the corner of Guadalupe and Brazos streets. By 10a.m., several thousand people had gathered on the West Side with festive costumes, banners, bells, whistles andflags imprinted with Chávez’s image.
As grand marshal, University of Texas at San Antonio President Ricardo Romo led the 2.5-mile procession to Alamo Plaza, where the convoy was greeted by live music and a troupe of feathered dancers. Immediately after,community activists and political leaders took the stage to express support for equal pay, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and better working con- ditions for laborers.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said he was inspired to see thousands of people rallying to advocate changesto federal immigration policy.
“The (immigration) bill has been sitting in Congress since last June. They are wasting their time in Washington,” hesaid, calling for the White House and Congress to act on deportations. “We believe in family values, and we want tosee them stay together. We must not take no for an answer.”
Doggett was joined onstage by Martinez, U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas, and LULAC member Henry Rodriguez,who helped organize the first César Chávez march in San Antonio. The four community leaders encouraged the crowdto continue rallying for immigration reform and keep themselves educated on local issues.
Bringing together people with different experiences and perspectives is “the only way to truly be educated aboutissues,” said San Antonio resident CarolAnn Aguero, who participates in the march every year.
Aguero praised the annual event for bridging the gap between people who live, work and play in different parts of theSan Antonio metropolitan area.
Valentina Trinidad, a member of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, said it was important to teach youngpeople about Chávez, especially because many young people are unfamiliar with the contributions he made to theUnited States.
“Some of our heroes aren’t in our history books,” she said. “I’m Mexican-American, but I’m American first andCésar Chávez is definitely an American hero.”