SAN JOSE, Calif. - Human rights activist Cesar Chavez dedicated his life to improving the lives of farmworkers. A local non-profit purchased Chavez's landmark home last year, and now they’re asking for the community’s help to transform it into a community center.
Amigos de Guadalupe says buying Chavez’s home was just the start of preserving his legacy. Now they’re focused on raising enough money to make the place a hub for the entire community.
"This will be a museum interpretive center and a place where people can come and learn about Cesar Chavez," said Maritza Maldonado, founder and executive director of the Amigos de Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment.
From 1951 to 1953, human rights activist Cesar Chavez and his family lived at 53 Sharff Ave. in San Jose, which now has a duplex on the property. Last year the Amigos de Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment bought the property to make space for the next generation of community leaders.
"This house here will be meeting space, we’ll have some childcare activities, community kitchen…" Maldonado said.
Chavez is internationally recognized for his activism and organizing on behalf of farmworkers in the 1950s and 60s. He founded what would become the United Farm Workers of America. Maldonado says long before she began serving the community, she had her own experience with Chavez.
"As someone who grew up in this very neighborhood, who actually had Father McDonnell and Cesar Chavez knocking on our door and us hearing the plight of the farmworkers, it’s really important that the legacy of Cesar Chavez for our community and our young people understand the significance and the importance that Cesar Chavez played," Maldonado said.
The Chavez home was declared a San Jose city landmark a year after his death in 1994. Maldonado says now they’ll be launching another fundraising campaign in the spirit of Chavez’s motto: Si Se Puede, Yes, We Can.
"Our goal is to fundraise to actually get this going to have the community enjoy this space," Maldonado said.
Maldonado says they’ve already raised about $1 million, but they need $8 million to $10 million to build the community center. Click here to donate.