Social Justice by Diana Victa and Alejandra Romo

CELEBRATING SOCIAL JUSTICE ICONS CHÁVEZ, HUERTA, AND ITLIONG
A Call to Action for Civic Engagement and Advocacy

On Thursday, March 17, the Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center(CCCAC) will celebrate its inaugural Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong (CHI) Day. The three individuals who went on to inspire many others during their lifetime are the root of the celebration and inspire us every day at the CCCAC. CHI day will be an annual celebration where we not only celebrate but, more importantly, call to action their legacy.

To understand the importance and significance of CHI day, we have to understand who the three individuals are and why we are celebrating it. The conditions in which farmworkers have worked in has never been fair but the fight for their rights was initiated by all of these monumental figures in history. In 1966, Filipino members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee joined forces with Latino members of the National Farm Workers Association to form the United Farm Workers (UFW). With leaders such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong, they pushed to mobilize farm workers to advocate for more equitable policies, such as immigration reform, pesticide protections, heat standards, hazard pay, and other worker protections. CHI saw farmworkers as essential to the reason food, the staple of everyday life, is on our table.

Some of the UFW achievements include the first contracts to provide rest periods, drinking water, toilets, hand-washing facilities in the fields, the banning of pesticide spraying while workers were in the field, and protective clothing to guard against exposure to pesticides. In the fight, Chicano and Filipino farm workers united to become one of the greatest forces in history.

At the CCCAC, we find inspiration in the work and values of Chavez, Huerta, and Itliong. Chavez quotes, “The fight has never been about the grapes, the fight has always been about the people!” We promote this very motto at the CCCAC by centering on our core values such as community, empowerment, solidarity, and civic engagement. At the center, we offer a variety of services that serve people.

    • Through our K-12 mentorship programs, we are able to close the education pipeline for BIPOC youth of San Jose by encouraging education.
    • Through our Campus Community Garden, we have not only helped to provide for food-insecure students but also empower students to critically think about and take action on environmental justice issues.
    • Our In Solidarity program equips the SJSU students with a new understanding on social justice issues and how to become the next generation of leaders.

We have truly become a student hub on campus where people learn to take action on the social justice issues they are most passionate about. The CCCAC is a space where Spartans can feel united and connected to social justice work as inspired by CHI.

We invite you to join us at the inaugural CHI Day to celebrate and honor the work of Chavez, Huerta, and Itliong on Thursday, March 17 from 11am-1pm on 7th Street Plaza at San Jose State University. We not only celebrate their legacy but also remember the cause! When we say “viva la huelga” (long live the protest), we acknowledge the triumph of the grape strike! There will always be a cause and we will always fight for it.

The CCCAC is located in the Student Union, 1st Floor, Suite 1550. Connect with us in Insta @sjsucccac and @sjsugarden. Visit us on the web at sjsu.edu/cccac and sjsu.edu/garden.

Advocacy by Alan Nguyen

Alan Nguyen is a student assistant in Transportation Solutions, a department within Associated Students, SJSU. In this latest Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Alan shares his story on Advocacy, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here

“I have always had a strong passion for public transportation. It started when I was little and has continued throughout my teenage and adult years.”

For my generation, advocacy is an essential form of public engagement. It allows us to voice our opinions and to influence people and our leaders for the betterment of society. I guess I inherited the same interest from my grandfather who moved from Vietnam to the US in the early 1900s. He took various forms of public transportation across the San Francisco Bay Area, including VTA and BART, to travel to Oakland and San Francisco during his free time. His visits to the city reminded him of his younger days in Vietnam, where he worked as a civil engineer building public transportation infrastructure in various cities across the country.

“I highly encourage every Spartan to take sustainable forms of transportation…”

I currently work as a student assistant in Transportation Solutions (T.S.) department. Before joining T.S. in Fall 2021, I never had any prior experience working for a department that advocates for alternative transportation. I highly encourage every Spartan to take sustainable forms of transportation rather than driving their own vehicles. They’ll help reduce parking demand on campus and ultimately help fight climate change. We need to significantly reduce all carbon emissions, including what’s produced by a massive number of cars on the road.

My job has been fulfilling because I have developed a more robust understanding of how the 27 public transit agencies in the Bay Area work. Additionally, I have helped my fellow Spartans by providing trip plans, contributing to multiple transportation projects, organizing outreach events, and more. Working at T.S. is an amazing opportunity for me to network with like-minded individuals who share the same passion when advocating for environmental sustainability.

“I act as a liaison on behalf of my fellow Spartans.”

My goal is to go above and beyond what’s expected in my role. For example, my manager recommended me to get involved in outreach events with Seamless Bay Area, a non-profit organization that aims to reinvent and transform our fragmented public transit by building a diverse movement for change and promoting policy reform. This can result in a unified, world-class, equitable, and widely-used Bay Area transit system. I act as a liaison on behalf of my fellow Spartans by attending public meetings, voicing my concerns as a frequent public transit user, and pushing for a better transit system that is streamlined and affordable for students.

“Together, we can build a better Bay Area!”

We all have an important role in society: the need to address the seriousness of climate change and what we can do to help mitigate this for future generations now calls on our spirit of advocacy! Together, we can build a better Bay Area and ultimately, a better world, by becoming more informed, getting involved, acting, and influencing people around us. I want to continue using my passion for public transportation and the environment as a means of becoming an everyday role model for my fellow Spartans!

To contact Alan Nguyen and the T.S. team and to learn more about programs, events, and services:

Transportation Solutions
Diaz Compean Student Union, 1st Floor, Suite 1800
In-Person Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Tel: (408)924-6242; e-mail: transportation@sjsu.edu
Instagram and Twitter: @ts_sjsu
ts.sjsu.edu