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Cesar Chavez Google doodle generates controversy

March 31, 2013|A Times Staff Writer
  • Cesar Chavez speaks to members of the United Farm Workers during a rally in the Imperial Valley.
Cesar Chavez speaks to members of the United Farm Workers during a rally… (Steve Fontanini )

Sunday was the birthday of the late California farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. And he was the subject of a Google doodle on the home page of the search engine.

But Sunday was also Easter. And that's where the controversy started.

Google faced something of a backlash for choosing Easter to celebrate the life of Chavez. Some people expressed their displeasure on Facebook and Twitter, calling the choice disrespectful.

"Google is celebrating Easter with Cesar Chavez. I'm celebrating Easter with Bing," Rick Wilson, a Florida GOP strategist tweeted, referring to the competing search engine. Wilson later noted that he received numerous comments from Chavez supports slamming his tweet.

The conservative website the Daily Caller also weighed in with a story under the headline "Hail Cesar."

PHOTOS: Google Doodles of 2013

"On Easter Sunday, Google is honoring the birthday of the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez by placing a Chavez portrait within the middle “o” of the Google logo that appears on the homepage of the popular search engine," the Daily Caller reported.  While Google frequently decorates its logo to celebrate various holidays and special events, it is unclear why the company chose specifically to honor Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.

The Google doodle comes several months after President Obama last year visited the Tehachapi Mountains hamlet of Keene to dedicate the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument.

In 2011, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar added the headquarters of the United Farm Workers and Chavez's residence from 1971 to his death in 1993 to the National Register of Historic Places. The Navy christened the newest cargo-ammunition ship for Chavez, who served in the Navy during World War II. 

Obama's visit came as the struggling United Farm Workers celebrates its 50th anniversary. By the time Chavez died in 1993, the labor leader and his union had been written off by detractors who called them irrelevant in contemporary labor, cultural and political issues.

Google describes its doodles this way: "Doodles are the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists."

--Here are stories from a 2006 Times investigation into the UFW and Chavez's legacy.

--Here is The Times 1993 obituary of Chavez.

--Here is a Times photo gallery: Remembering Chavez

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