Move to change Cesar Chavez Day to Border Control Day spurs anger

Mar 30, 2018, 10:24 AM | Updated: 10:31 am

Two students lead a Phoenix parade  holding a large photo of Cesar Chavez. (Cronkite News Photo/Mil...

Two students lead a Phoenix parade holding a large photo of Cesar Chavez. (Cronkite News Photo/Miles Metke)

(Cronkite News Photo/Miles Metke)

PHOENIX – From bright bailable (Mexican folk dance) dresses to tall mariachi sombreros and vivid-colored zarapes (serapes), boys and girls from Cesar Chavez Leadership Academy in Phoenix stood beside a large mural of a man they’ve never met but know through countless stories.

Students, parents, staff members, and community leaders gathered at the academy Thursday to honor the civil rights activist and labor organizer, but they also expressed outrage over a proposal by a Tea Party congressman to change the name of Cesar Chavez Day to Border Control Day.

In a tweet March 20, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), said he has filed a resolution in the U.S. House to change the name because “Chavez spent his life addressing the harmful effects that illegal migration might have on this country and advocating for a legal immigration process.”

Arizona House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix), who was present at the celebration, said Gohmert’s proposal was unnecessary and insulting.

“Today is a day to celebrate Cesar Chavez and his legacy, and for those folks that would like to rename the holiday, I would question their motivation, and I would say they’re manipulating history,” Rios said. “Today is a day that many Latinos are very proud to celebrate on behalf of Cesar Chavez, and we will fight to keep it Cesar Chavez Day.”

Sofia Miranda, an eighth-grader at the academy, also opposed the name switch.

“I wouldn’t support it because I think that the name he has in mind for Cesar Chavez Day, I think it has a negative connotation to it, because nobody wants to hear about borders,” she said.

“It’s not about that. It’s about what he did.”

Principal Andrea Groeninger said the commemoration was an annual tradition at the school, taking place just days before Chavez’s birthday, March 31.

“It starts off with an assembly that is student-planned, student-run, student-executed, followed by a parade with all of our district schools, invited guests and dignitaries, and we end with a celebration and carnival for the day,” Groeninger said.

Participants paraded around the school for a mile, cheering, chanting and holding up handmade signs that displayed drawings of Chavez and such messages as “Si, se puede!” (Yes, we can!)

Miranda said that, as someone of Mexican heritage, Chavez was particularly important to her.

“When I read stories about him and what he did, I think of what he did for the farmworkers. He fought for equality,” she said. “My family never had to work on the fields. But if my family were to, I would’ve wanted someone like him to be their voice, to stand up for them.”

Groeninger said when she thinks about Chavez and his legacy, she thinks about her students and their families.

“It’s a legacy of working for people who need a voice and being a voice of people who have often not had a voice she said. And he was successful at doing that and did it through nonviolence, did it through organization, did it through communication, and that is the legacy that we honor.”

Adopting the name Gohmert proposed would unjustly represent Chavez, Groeninger said.

“If we are calling something ‘Border Wall Day,’ we are not talking about unifying, and we’re not talking about bringing people together, we’re talking about doing the opposite of that,” she said.

“I think that that would change the meaning behind Cesar Chavez and his work.”

A vote on Gohmert’s resolution has not been scheduled.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deion Alexander Garcia, 27, is accused of child sex crimes while working as a dental assistant in C...

Nick Borgia

Chandler dental assistant indicted for sexual abuse of child patients

A Maricopa County Grand Jury has indicted Deion Alexander Garcia for sexual abuse of young dental patients while providing x-ray exams.

1 hour ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

2 hours ago

Brian Galvez and broken window...

Nick Borgia

Man arrested for allegedly throwing rocks through windows of Mesa businesses

A man was arrested for allegedly throwing rocks through the windows of eight Mesa businesses, police said.

3 hours ago

Arizona CD-3 primary debates: Recap of Democrats, Republicans...

Serena O'Sullivan

Republicans, Democrats running for CD-3 debate on economy, border, abortion before primary election

Did you miss the two Arizona CD-3 primary debates between Republicans and Democrats on May 22, 2024? This recap covers the important parts.

4 hours ago

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the failed bor...

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema blasts ‘bickering’ Senate before border bill test vote fails

Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema expressed her frustration Thursday with the U.S. Senate's unwillingness to pass meaningful border legislation ahead of its failed test vote of a bill she helped negotiate.

5 hours ago

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)...

Katie Hobbs believes Secure the Border Act would drive businesses out of Arizona

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs believes the Secure the Border Act would drive businesses out of Arizona if passed.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Move to change Cesar Chavez Day to Border Control Day spurs anger