The words of farm-labor leader and civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez were delivered to students in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District on Friday along with his message about the importance of education.
Defense attorney Adrian Andrade spoke to students during the David Sanchez Elementary School ceremony commemorating the birthday of Chavez, who was born on March 31, 1927.
“Once you have your education, no one can take that from you,” Andrade told the young students.
“Once you learn to read, then that opens the door for your education, so we want everybody reading as much as you can, right?” Andrade added. “He also said, ‘Once you are proud of who you are and who your parents and where you come from, nobody can take that away, right?”
Andrade encouraged the students to learn English, Spanish, French and other languages.
“Once you do that, nobody can take that away from you and nobody can make you feel humiliated,” Andrade said. “You will be proud of yourself, right? And once you are proud and you are educated and you are happy and you are helping others, you’re not afraid.”
A new attorney in 1976 working for California Rural Legal Assistance, Andrade met Chavez at a conference, recalling the man being unassuming and humble.
“But when he spoke it was just tremendous, it was powerful,” Andrade added.
Chavez never a owned a car or a house, but lived a happy life due to a large group of friends, the attorney told the students
“If you do more for your friends than you do for yourself, you will have a happy life,” Andrade said. “That was a message from Cesar Chavez.”
Andrade reminded they youths they represent the future.
“This is your future. This is your city and your country and your state. You need to educate yourself so you can take over,” he added.
“Remember, Si, se puede, Si, se puede, Si, se puede,” Andrade said, declaring ‘Yes, we can,” the motto of the United Farm Workers, in Spanish.
During the ceremony held in the school’s courtyard, students also performed songs and recited poetry to honor Chavez.