Library Corner: Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day with databases

By Tess Riley
Grand County Library District associate
March 31 is Cesar Chavez day.
Image courtesy of Grand County Library District

Did you know that March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day? I didn’t. In fact, until I got ready to write this article, I knew embarrassingly little about Cesar Chavez or why we celebrate him each year.

Lucky for me, Grand County Library District has recently subscribed to EBSCO Databases, greatly expanding our bank of free online learning tools. EBSCO provides research databases with access to a wide variety of reliable articles and information.

My first stop in my quest to learn more about Cesar Chavez was EBSCO’s History Reference Center. A simple search of “Cesar Chavez” brought back dozens of full-text articles and book excerpts.

In addition to extensive biographical information, I learned that Chavez is recognized for his advocacy for Mexican-American workers. He was responsible for the creation of the American Farm Workers Movement, tackling the economic, social and racial injustices suffered by migrant workers. His heroic efforts led to competitive pay, safer working conditions and greatly improved lives for countless workers and their families.

EBSCO’s Ethnic Diversity Source returns hundreds more articles about Chavez and his legacy among Hispanics, as well as more information about how Cesar Chavez Day became a national holiday in 2014. The date of March 31 was selected to honor Chavez’s birthday, March 31, 1927.

The Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection leads me to a review of “Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez” by Kathleen Krull, a children’s book on the life and work of Chavez. A quick search of the library district’s online catalog reveals a copy in the Granby Library’s foreign language collection, a perfect way for young Spanish-speakers to learn about Chavez in their native tongue. It’s also available in English as a downloadable resource in Hoopla, the libraries’ cloud-based digital library.

Speaking of Spanish, should you be interested in learning to speak it, or any other language, the EBSCO Database gives you free access to Rosetta Stone. 

And finally, a visit to the Poetry & Short Story Reference Center leads me to a poem by A.D. Winans, written in honor of Cesar Chavez and the immigrants he championed. I will leave you with this fitting tribute to a true American hero.

Poem For The Immigrants on the Corner of Cesar Chavez in San Francisco,” by A.D. Winans.

you see them standing on the corner

day in and day out

in boiling sun or bitter cold

waiting for a car to stop

a driver to offer them work

at below minimum pay

in the fields or sweat shops

no questions asked

no quarter given

men and women who risk drowning

to cross the border

they wear a cross to ward off evil

pick your food bus your tables

skin cracked from the sun

ignore the eyes that follow them

the long arm of the law

the cruel words from ignorant tongues

these men with skin dark as dirt

with a wife and children

with needs like you and me

never lose their dignity

never lose their faith

never lose the hope of becoming

part of the American dream

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