Riverside Celebrates Chavez’s Legacy

ie_group_c_chavez_statue_595p.jpgSEIU 721 Riverside City Chapter members pose with artist Ignacio Gomez, center, who sculpted the bronze statue of Cesar E. Chavez, following the dedication and unveiling in downtown Riverside on Saturday, June 8, 2013.
Artist Ignacio Gomez hoped to stir emotions with his bronze sculpture depicting Cesar E. Chavez striding up a hill with farm workers toiling in the fields, head held high. On Saturday, June 8, Gomez fulfilled that goal as more than 1,000 people applauded, sighed, grinned, reflected and then pushed in to get a closer look at the life-sized statue of the famed farm labor leader that was unveiled and dedicated in downtown Riverside.
SEIU 721 Riverside City Chapter members were among those that listened to speakers praising Chavez’s legacy and leadership. One of the speakers was Paul F. Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son. 
“I am honored that this memorial is in Riverside, since Riverside played an important role in who my father is and was. From the fields to the citrus groves, this area was important to him and the movement.”
–Paul Chavez
At one point, SEIU 721 member Gloria Melendez, a Riverside City customer service representative, wiped away tears, saying that the non-violent struggle that Chavez led was a key for her family’s success in pursuing a better life and the labor movement in general.
“Because of Cesar Chavez’s legacy of organizing non-violently, it gives me as a union steward the strength to be a voice in the workplace for those who are afraid to speak up. Labor rights are human and social rights.”
–Gloria Melendez, Riverside City Customer Service Representative
“I have to remember where I came from. The struggle continues today. It makes me want to step up and continue to fight for justice and what’s right in the workplace. His dream still lives on with me.”
–Enrique Barboza, Field Service Assistant (His grandparents were migrant workers.)
SEIU 721 members donated funds to help build the memorial. Their generosity was acknowledged with a plaque proclaiming the union a Copper level donor.
Click on the link below to view a photo gallery of the celebration.
Click on the link to read media coverage of the event.
United Farm Workers’ Prayer, by Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)

”Show me the suffering of the most miserable, so I may know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others, for you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life, so that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others, for in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience, so that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration, so that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow, so that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice, for they have given us life. 
Help us love even those who hate us, so we can change the world.