César E. Chávez National Monument

César E. Chávez National Monument

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Years in the making, the César E. Chávez National Monument honors a site of great historic significance for its role in the 20th century labor, civil rights, Chicano, and environmental movements, and for its association with Chavez.

Managed by the National Park Service, the 116-acre César E. Chávez National Monument in Kern County, California, the monument became the first national park site to honor a contemporary Latino American.

Located on the property known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), or La Paz, the monument was designated as a national monument on September 21, 2012.

The site served as the national headquarters of the United Farm Workers (UFW) as well as the home and workplace of César Chávez and his family from the early 1970’s until Chávez’ death in 1993, and includes his grave site which is also part of the monument.

From this rural headquarters in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, California, Chávez played a central role in achieving basic worker protections for hundreds of thousands of farmworkers across the country, from provisions ensuring drinking water was provided to workers in the fields, to steps that helped limit workers’ exposure to dangerous pesticides, to helping to establish basic minimum wages and health care access for farm workers.

The César E. Chávez National Monument encompasses property that includes a Visitors’ Center containing César Chávez’s office as well as the UFW legal aid offices, the home of César and Helen Chávez, the Chávez Memorial Garden containing Chavez’s grave site, and additional buildings and structures at the La Paz campus. The designation did not impact private property.

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In 2008, fifteen years after Chavez passed away, Congress directed the National Park Service (NPS) to undertake a special resource study to identify locations that were significant to Cesar Chavez’s life for possible establishment of a new national historical park to interpret the life of the civil rights leader and preserve the places important to the Farm Labor Movement.

In February 2011, Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, visited the National Chavez Center at Keene and met with local stakeholders. The National Park Service also held a series of eight public meetings in California and Arizona in May 2011in order to collect information and feedback on various sites associated. This included a May 12th meeting in Delano, CA to solicit public comment on historical locations in and around Delano and at movement headquarters in Keene.

The national monument at the Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace) site in Keene, CA ultimately was chosen in consultation with the United Farm Workers of America, the César Chávez Foundation and the National Chávez Center. The designation was also supported by groups including the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM) and the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico (HRT).

The National Chávez Center donated properties at La Paz to the federal government for the purpose of establishing a national monument. After the land was given to the federal government, President Obama designated the national monument in September 2012.

In October 2012, President Obama traveled to the National Chavez Center in Keene and before a crowd of 7,000 dedicated a portion of the property as the César E. Chávez National Monument. At that time, the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation dedicated financial support needed to open and fund operations of the national monument.  The American Latino Heritage Fund continues to be a partner with the national monument.

In October 2013, the National Park Service (NPS) announced plans for a Cesar Chavez National Historic Park in order to create even greater public awareness of Chavez’s achievements. The proposed Historic Park would include the national monument and would include four additional sites in California and Arizona relevant to the civil rights leader’s life.