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Obama to establish Cesar Chavez National Monument in California

October 01, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • Labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez is buried at La Paz in Keene, Calif., where President Obama will announce a national monument next week.
Labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez is buried at La Paz in Keene, Calif.,… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

LAS VEGAS -- President Obama next week will mark the creation of a new national monument at the home and grave site of civil rights and labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Obama is slated to travel to Keene in California's San Joaquin Valley on Oct. 8 to formally establish the new monument at the property known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, or Our Lady Queen of Peace.

The site includes several structures linked to the United Farm Workers leader, including the mission-style building where he held meetings and worked to organize farm laborers.  Chavez also lived at the La Paz complex from the early 1970s until he died and was buried there in 1993.

The monument has been a project long in the works, but the White House announced the president’s plans on Monday, as Obama was in Las Vegas preparing for a debate Wednesday with Republican Mitt Romney. The president on Sunday rallied supporters in a Latino neighborhood of the city where his campaign is trying to boost turnout and enthusiasm.

“Cesar Chavez gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” Obama said in a statement. “La Paz was at the center of some of the most significant civil rights moments in our nation’s history, and by designating it a national monument, Chavez’s legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come.”

In a statement, Paul F. Chavez, president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the labor leader's middle son, said his father inspired millions of people -- Latinos and non-Latinos, farmworkers and those who never worked on a farm. "So we are happy," Chavez said, "that the story of La Paz, which was a spiritual harbor and a place where my dad and thousands of selfless people worked for social justice over the years, will forever be shared with the nation through the National Park Service."

kathleen.hennessey@latimes.com

Twitter:@khennessey

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