Today — March 31 — we honor the late civil rights activist and labor leader, César Estrada Chávez.
From founding the United Farm Workers of America to inspiring generations of people to stand up for justice, equality, and dignity — his work will always be remembered. And for us in San Jose, we’re lucky to see roots of his activism right in our backyard.
So, to celebrate his birthday, let’s take a tour of four local landmarks that tell the life and legacy of César Chávez.
“Arch of Dignity”
Start your tour at San Jose State University, and head to Seventh Street Plaza to find the “Arch of Dignity.” The piece includes depictions of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Salinas Valley farm workers, and the labor leader himself. Learn more about the symbolism behind the structure.
César Chávez’s family home
Venture to the East Side, where Chávez’s family home can be found at 53 Scharff Ave. The San Jose Historic Landmark was purchased by Amigos de Guadalupe in the summer of 2022, and will soon be transformed into a community space for education + historic preservation.
Just a few blocks from his old residence is McDonnell Hall, located behind Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Within these walls, Chávez learned the fundamentals of leadership from Father Donald McDonnell and how to apply the non-violent philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi to his protests. It earned National Historic Landmark designation in 2017.
Mexican Heritage Plaza
Before this cultural hub staked its claim on Alum Rock Avenue, this site was formerly a Safeway grocery store.It was that exact store that Chávez held one of his first strikes to boycott the poor pay and working conditions faced by grape growers. Today, you can walk through its peaceful garden, catch a show at the School of Arts and Culture, and learn more about the local Chicano culture.