Cesar Chavez's legacy recognized and honored by North Bay high school students

Students in the North Bay took to the streets one day ahead of Cesar Chavez Day in a symbolic march to honor the late activist’s legacy.

The group started at the San Anselmo Hub and ended at Albert Park in San Rafael, which followed part of the same route Chavez walked in 1970. At the time, Chavez marched in solidarity with the local Marin Independent Journal Typographers union during a strike in what was later dubbed San Rafael’s Miracle Mile.

"It’s great to have this experience as a class and walk the path that he did," Jamaica Heapen, a student, said.

The students are enrolled in a new class at Tam High called Social and Environmental Justice and Action. Mike Levinson is one of the teachers who said some students didn’t know about Cesar Chavez or his fight for labor rights.

"We also wanted to show them what the United Farm Workers are fighting for today and what other labor rights groups are fighting for today so they understand that and the importance of those issues," Levinson said.

The students were inspired to hold the March after watching A Song for Cesar at the Mill Valley Film Festival in 2021 put on by the California Film Institute. After the film, the students sat with the filmmakers to talk more about Chavez’s life and legacy.

"What he did is not something that was resolved and in the past, but is still an ongoing thing," Ruby Rose Amezcua, a student, said. "It’s something we need to be more aware of."

It’s indicative that younger generations continue to be inspired by his work. For them, it is more than a history lesson, it’s a call to action as farm workers and labor groups continue to fight for workers’ rights.

"I feel like it’s our job, especially as someone who comes from an immigrant household, to fight for them and to speak for them," Jennifer Ayala, a student, said.