For years, bipartisan leaders in Congress, the National Park Service, the Chávez family and local organizations worked collaboratively to identify a means of interpreting and protecting the Chávez legacy. The public participation in local meetings or “listening sessions” during this process was inspiring.
After listening to the community, President Obama created the César E. Chávez National Monument using his power under the Antiquities Act. The monument protects the property called “La Paz” on a hillside in rural Keene, Calif. It served as home to the Chávez family and the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers. It also includes the grave site of César Chávez.
The César Chávez National Monument is a quiet place, just as it was during César Chávez’s time. La Paz was a place where listening was valued and taught. It was a place where the Latino leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow were endowed with confidence in what can happen when we empower everyday people.
I am so pleased that this monument designation places the site among the great natural, cultural and historic sites of our nation. It will serve as a place to inspire our nation with the ideals of liberty and justice — not just for Latinos, but for all Americans.
Protecting this special place is recognition of the Chávez legacy. I truly hope the monument will become a place for learning, for reflecting, and for inspiring community leaders of tomorrow through its history and natural beauty. It will provide generations to come with a chance to breathe fresh air and marvel at the landscape while learning about critical moments in our shared heritage.