Musicians drummed and dancers strutted, but most of the people who turned out Saturday morning to march in honor of the late labor leader Cesar Chavez did not show up to party.
They carried signs that read “#resiste” and chanted slogans declaring their opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration plans, such as “Say it loud, say it clear: Immigrants are welcome here.”
“This is not a parade. This is not a celebration. This is a political statement,” said one of the organizers, Francisco Garcia.
He addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people just before they began the 17th annual Cesar Chavez march. It kicked off from Southside Park, across the street from the church where Chavez concluded his 300-mile march for farmworker rights in 1966.
Year in and year out, the march pays homage to Chavez’s campaigns while connecting his work to modern labor and immigration activism. Some on Saturday wore the red of Chavez’s United Farm Workers, and their chants harkened back to the union’s “Si, se puede” motto.
“It was the movement of thousands and thousands of people that left us with a legacy that we must continue. We’re not going away,” said Al Rojas, president of the Sacramento chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, in a speech to fire up the marchers.
With Trump in the White House after pledging to build a border wall, many of this year’s participants focused on advocating for immigrants who may fear deportation.
“I’m here to just make sure that people in the community don’t feel alone. There’s a lot of fear,” said Janeth Rodriguez, 38.
She and Dustin Moon, 30, carried a banner featuring a painting by Sacramento artist Xico Gonzalez that read “no ban no wall,” a reference to Trump’s proposed temporary ban on travel from six Muslim-majority nations as well as his proposed border wall. In a pop-art style, the banner showed a young Muslim woman in a hijab and a Latina farmworker with a red scarf over her face.
Moon and Rodriguez joined the march with a group from SEIU Local 1000, a union for state workers. They’ve attended the march regularly.
“It’s a day to celebrate and honor the work of Cesar Chavez with the work we have in front of us,” said Miguel Cordova, chairman for one of SEIU 1000’s bargaining units.