San Antonio.- Inside a private dining room at Mi Tierra, a celebration took place.
Graduates from the César Chávez Legacy and Education Foundation stood stand in front of a mural depicting various Latinos who’ve made contributions to American history, including the organization’s namesake.
The students remember his motto, “Sí se puede,” and it lives on through the graduates of the program.
Besides offering scholarships to migrant children seeking a college education, the foundation also has a summer program teaching students about Chávez’s struggles, the effect of the Dream Act on immigrants and their Latino heritage.
Jaime Rios, a guest speaker at the event, is one of those revered figures in his own right.
Born in Durango in 1962, he came to the United States at 14 looking for work, where he got a job working from sunrise to sunset for room and board and a $1 a day. His good work ethic earned him a job at a paving construction company.
Since then, he has started his own successful business, J&PP Paving. He has five daughters, all who are in school and in college.
“I have faith that all of my daughters will be an asset to America,” Rios said.
Stephanie Vasquez, a Chávez graduate, also has similar dreams. The member of the first graduating class was presented with a diploma and a “Chávistas 2012 Organizer” pin.
Vasquez, a pre-pharmacy major at St. Philips College, has learned how to “become a leader not only for the community but all the dreamers out there.”
The Chávez Legacy and Education Fund will host a rally on September 15, in Washington, D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Vasquez will make a speech at midnight September 16.
At the same time, the President of Mexico will address his country on Mexican Independence Day. Both will lead the Grito de Dolores as Father Miguel Hidalgo did in 1810 to ignite the Mexican Revolution.
“We also want to let them know we are fighting for a bigger change, for a permanent change,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez added many of her friends will benefit from the bill once it goes into effect this week.
Over 800,000 students will be able to continue their work or education without being deported, said Jaime Martinez, founder and President of the César Chávez Legacy and Education Fund.
Unfortunately, naysayers often criminalize the efforts of immigrants who come here to work for an honest living, Martinez said.
“Immigrants contribute to America,” Martinez emphasized.
They buy from HEB like everyone else, Martinez added. “There’s no difference.”
Martinez is confident the graduates will carry on Chávez’s legacy.
“The future is in good hands,” Martinez said. “As chairman, that’s part of the vision that I had when Chávez passed away in 1993.”