Rally for a new national holiday

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Cesar Chavez would have been 81 years old next Monday, March 31. His birthday has been recognized as a public legal holiday in California for the past eight years, and a dozen other states have followed in California's footsteps, declaring Cesar Chavez day an official day of service and learning in honor of the farm worker leader.

But movement supporters say the entire country is in need of knowing more about Chavez and all he stood for. They want Cesar Chavez day to be a national holiday.

Click in the Eyewitness News story window above to watch Wendy Burch's report from the scene, including a clip from Carlos Santana's speech.

The movement kicked off at the historic Pico House on Olvera Street, with musician Carlos Santana giving a speech praising Cesar Chavez.

"Cesar Chavez reminds us 'si se puede' means that you can create a miracle," said Santana to the crowd.

Leaders of the movement admit it just might take a few miracles to get Congress to recognize Cesar Chavez day as a national holiday.

"We're optimistic, obviously. That was one of Cesar's ways of being, and we're also realistic," said former State Senator Richard Polanco. "It's just not about the holiday, and when people get the fact that this is about communities coming together to make a difference."

That sentiment is why the Chavez family gives the national holiday movement their full support. They said it's not just a day of recognition, but it would be a day of realization of what can be done when communities come together for the common good.

"I think more than anything, I think because it's going to be a day of service. I think that's one of the most valuable lessons we learned from my grandfather, was about giving back," said granddaughter Christine Chavez.

One of the biggest hurdles they're going to have to cross is there's actually a rule in the U.S. House of Representatives that says no bill for a national holiday can be introduced. Supporters will have to lobby Congress in order to change that rule before the bill can ever be considered. Although it could take years to get the bill before Congress, Supporters said they're determined, and they're willing to continue their movement.


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