Statement in Honor of Cesar Chavez Day 2021


Message from Chief Executive Officer Kristin Spanos

Today, First 5 Alameda County recognizes civil rights and labor activist Cesar Chavez, whose legacy in social and environmental justice still inspires us today.


Cesar Chavez, alongside Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). In 1965, Chavez and Huerta joined Larry Itliong to lead the Grape Strike, a five-year movement of demonstrations, boycotting, and strikes in Delano, California that was predominantly composed of Filipinx and Latinx workers. Their collective efforts resulted in better working conditions and pay for farmworkers.

As we celebrate Cesar Chavez today, we are also aware that the work remains unfinished. Although the American Rescue Plan includes mixed-status families, the stimulus package leaves out many undocumented essential workers, including farmworkers who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic to feed people across the nation.

This year, the House has passed multiple immigration bills, including the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA), which would grant farmworkers who have worked more than two years a certified agricultural worker status, allowing them and their children to remain in the US for renewable 5 ½ year periods. We hope this recent development is only the beginning of greater movement toward racial and economic justice. As an agency, we pledge to advocate for just immigration policies that support families, children, and caregivers and promote access to health, safety, and opportunity for everyone.

Locally, we are proud to see Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the son of civil right advocates who helped organize farmworkers in the Central Valley, carry on the legacy of Filipino-American organizers. His bill in the State Assembly, AB 368-Medically Supportive Food, aims to create a food prescription pilot that directly addresses racial and ethnic health disparities, combats chronic disease, and reduces health care costs, as well as nutrition and food insecurity among Medi-Cal beneficiaries. With Governor Newsom’s nomination of Assemblymember Bonta for state Attorney General, he has pledged to continue the fight for social and economic justice as California’s first Filipino-American Attorney General.

First 5 is committed to partnering with our community to mitigate harm caused by the COVID-19 crisis, with a focus on racial and economic justice, to ensure that the pandemic does not deepen racial inequality in income, education, health, and other public systems. Read more about our commitment to advance racial equity and family economic security in our 2021 Policy Agenda.

In solidarity,

Kristin Spanos