Introducing César E. Chávez National Monument
César E. Chávez was an American civil rights activist, labor leader, and one of the founders of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union dedicated to improving the lives of farm workers in the United States. Born in Yuma, Arizona in 1927, Chávez moved with his family to California as the Great Depression took hold on the dwindling economic opportunities available to his family. In California, he worked as a migrant farm laborer, becoming acquainted with the hardships and indignities of farm labor that he would later devote his life to resolving. Gaining momentum in the 1960s, Chávez, along with workers' rights activists including Dolores Huerta and Larry Itliong ignited a movement for workers' rights. In the 1970s, Chávez moved his large family to the small town of Keene, California, which became the headquarters for the movement, living at what became known as Villa La Paz until his death in 1993. La Paz served as a place of peace and refuge as well as a central organizing location for Chávez, his family, and volunteers for the movement. Many members of the Chávez family continue to live at La Paz, and through the César Chávez Foundation manage the historic landscape and structures in partnership with the National Park Service. The site was designated a National Monument by President Barack Obama in 2012. Today, visitors can visit the former home and gravesite of César and Helen Chávez and learn about the history and legacy of the farm workers movement.
César E. Chávez National Monument Today
César E. Chávez National Monument covers 117 acres in the Tehachapi Mountains of the area historically known as Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz. The monument is managed collaboratively by the National Park Service and the National Chavez Center. The National Park Service owns and manages 1.9 acres of the land and structures while the National Chavez Center manages the portion that is not run by the National Park Service. The 1.9 acre area includes the present day visitor center with César's historic office, the memorial garden where César and Helen Chávez are buried, and the Chávez home. Members of the Chávez family live and work at La Paz continuing the legacy of César and Helen Chávez's work.
The Graves of Helen and César Chávez
When César Chávez passed away in 1993, his wife Helen expressed that it was her husband's wish to be buried in the rose garden by his two German Shepherds, Boycott and Huelga who were buried near today's visitor center. The memorial garden that visitors see today is the result of decades of work in designing and maintaining the surrounding memorial garden which had not yet been constructed at the time of César's sudden death. The design reflects César love of the California missions as well as his devotion to Catholicism. Helen and her children continued to live in Keene after Chávez's passing, and Helen was buried beside her husband in 2016. In the spring, Wisteria grows over the walls of the garden, referencing the shape and form of grapes, and crop that became central to igniting the farm works movement.
In the spring of 2021, CyArk documented portions of César E. Chávez National Monument. This park centers on the historic community of La Paz where Chávez lived and worked along with his family and hundreds of United Farm Work volunteers for over 20 years. The documentation was utilized to create an interactive guided tour of the site in order to make this site virtually accessible to anyone wanting to learn more about the farm workers movement and the legacy of civil rights in the United States. In addition to the millimeter accurate 3D model serving as the foundation for the interactive tour of the home, CyArk worked with the National Park Service and members of the Chávez family to share the history of the site and personal memories associated the movement and growing up in La Paz.
César E. Chávez's Office by CyArkCyArk