H.A.L.O. honors Chávez


Yesterday evening, many people gathered at the corner of 17th and Yuma St. to march in honor of César Chávez. The group walked to the K-State Student Union, where there was a reception waiting for them in the Cottonwood Room.

The purpose of the march was to raise awareness for the many things Chávez accomplished during his lifetime and to gather signatures for a petition that would make March 31, Chávez’s birthday, a national holiday.

In 1962 Chávez founded a union called the National Farm Workers Association, which is now the United Farm Workers. Over the years, through Chávez’s leadership and nonviolent tactics, the UFW has accomplished many things.

According to the UFW Web site, www.ufw.org, some of the UFW and Chávez’s early accomplishments were “the Delano grape strike, [Chávez’s] fasts that focused national attention on farm workers’ problems, and the 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966.”

“[He] made people aware of the struggles of farm workers for better pay and safer working conditions … Chávez and the union sought recognition of the importance and dignity of all farm workers.”

The Hispanic American Leadership Organization, K-State student organization, organized the event. H.A.L.O., which meets weekly, is an organization that promotes Hispanic culture at K-State and in the Manhattan community.

“Our main focus is to promote H.A.L.O., and to recruit Hispanics,” said Liz Renteria, president of H.A.L.O. “We try to create a place for Hispanic Americans to go where they feel comfortable.”

Renteria, junior in social work and modern languages, said the march was meant to honor the memory and the civil rights work that Chávez did.

“He worked really hard for people’s rights,” Renteria said. “Really just basic rights anyone should be allowed, like going to mass on Sunday, or using the bathroom at work.”

Renteria said Chávez mainly used the nonviolent tactics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi to draw people’s attention to the way Hispanics, and other minorities, were being treated.

This was the first time that H.A.L.O. had organized the César Chávez March, but Kristen Garcia, vice president of H.A.L.O. and sophomore in family studies and human services, said that they had come up with the idea to do it last year some time.

Garcia said she thought there was great turnout.

“It is very exciting to see the students excited about it,” said María Teresa Martinez-Ortiz, professor in Spanish. “We just want to recognize the importance of this day.”