A message from President Drake: Celebrating the legacy of César Chávez at the University of California

University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., issued the following statement in honor of César Chávez Day:

This month, we reflect upon the legacy of César Chávez, the visionary activist and organizer who fought tirelessly for farmworker rights, and whose story is central to that of social change in California and across the world.

Throughout his life, Chávez spoke truth to power. His efforts resulted in much-needed legal protections for farmworkers and a greater recognition of the dignity that all workers deserve. Thanks in part to this movement, California has been a model and a catalyst for change on a broad scale, from strengthening protections for workers to developing a safer, healthier, more equitable food system.

Cesar Chavez marching with others
César Chávez and protesters marching, 1966. Photo courtesy of the Ernest Lowe Photography Collection, UC Merced.

The history of the farmworker movement includes members of the UC community and moments that took place at the University. We are proud of our connection and contributions to the agricultural ingenuity of this state, and the role that access to education and research play in creating a more just society. I invite you to learn more about that history and the legacy of César Chávez. Explore the unique collection of photographs of Chávez housed at the UC Merced Library and take a moment to remember his important contributions on March 25, when the University observes César Chávez Day.

Chávez fought for some of the least powerful members of our society. He amplified their voices when most Americans wouldn’t listen. He showed the world that equity, justice and great change is possible. Let us honor him and his legacy by actively working to create a society in which all people are valued and every voice can be heard.

Fiat Lux,
Michael V. Drake
President, University of California