Organizing Cesar Chavez Day festivities has never been harder than it was April 4, 2009. After California established the labor and civil rights leader’s March 31 birthday as a paid state holiday in 2000, the following year a parade 15,000-people strong marched along Market Street.
Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state has eliminated its entire multi-million dollar budget for supporting the holiday, including $50,000 to the city. The State of California has also decided it won’t recommit funding to the Cesar Chavez Club, a statewide learn-through-service after school program in eight of the city’s schools.
Organizer Eva Royale, with no cents to spend, relied this year on volunteers — most of them stoic devotees — to assemble a parade of only a couple thousand marchers. She’s frustrated but, along with a groundswell of supporters who pushed Chavez’s birthday to become a state holiday, she’s determined to see the state holiday get nationalized under the supportive Obama administration.