President Obama was joined by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, at a ceremony today to establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif.
Located within the property known as Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz (Our Lady Queen of Peace), the monument commemorates the home and final resting place of renowned Hispanic civil rights activist Cesar E. Chavez. The property also was once the headquarters for the labor movement he helped create, the United Farm Workers of America (UFW).
The American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation has dedicated $150,000 needed to open and fund operations of the national monument throughout its first year, according to a news release.
"Today's dedication is a seminal moment as we ensure this historic chapter is noted in our American history," said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "The American Latino Heritage Fund is dedicated to ensuring that the contributions of this nation's Latino community, like Cesar Chavez's legacy of equality and rights, are honored and protected forever."
ALHF's mission is to identify historic sites and places essential to understanding the influence of U.S. Hispanics on the American story.
"Cesar Chavez and his fight for equal rights had a profound impact and lasting legacy for this nation," said Salazar, who also serves as chairman of the National Park Foundation's board of directors and founder of the American Latino Heritage Fund. "We are proud to welcome this important site into the national park system and thank the National Park Foundation's American Latino Heritage Fund for their support and commitment to this important cause."
While the Hispanic community accounts for approximately 54 million people in the American population, Hispanics represent only 9 percent of national park visitors, according to the release. The ALHF is working to improve that statistic by focusing on preserving American Hispanic history, raising the profile of American Hispanic heritage while increasing Hispanics' attendance at national parks, and identifying ways to engage the Hispanic community in outdoor recreation that supports the community's culture and lifestyle.
"By bringing the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument into the national park system, the American Latino Heritage Fund is fulfilling a crucial component in its national role to help preserve American Latino history," said Midy Aponte, executive director of the ALHF. "American Latino history is American history."
The National Park Foundation, chartered by Congress as the nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, raises private funds that directly aid, support and enrich America's nearly 400 national parks and their programs.
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