TUCSON – Over 650 marchers, many carrying signs that read, “Peace is Patriotic,” celebrated the Third Annual Cesar Chavez Day March and Rally for Peace.

“I want to thank the Tohono ‘O’odham people for allowing us to be here. We should never forget that this is their land, which was taken by the empire.” With these bold words University of Arizona Women’s Studies professor, Raquel Rubio Goldsmith, opened the day’s festivities which brought together a historic coalition for peace and justice. Endorsed by 48 community groups and by Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the event provided a spirited challenge not only to war, but to all attacks on people of color and working families everywhere.

Julian Kunnie, Director of Africana Studies at the University of Arizona, declared, “We are going to resist this war. We have mobilized a diverse group of organizations—labor, peace, women’s, civil rights, Chicano groups—to celebrate Cesar Chavez and to send a very strong message against this war! We are not going to take this sitting down!”

Cami Juarez, who grew up in a family of farmworkers, was one of many in the crowd who had met Chavez, whose mother was a Tucson native. Juarez noted that, “A lot of people involved in the peace movement are workers. They understand the needs of the disenfranchised.”

Juarez reported his experience the previous day when he and rally organizer, Ray Siqueiros, spoke at an assembly at Cesar Chavez Middle School. “I asked the students if they knew what was going on in Iraq. They did. I asked them if they knew what was going on in North Korea. They did. Then, I asked them why we were going to war with Iraq, but not North Korea. The kids said, ‘It’s the oil! There’s no oil involved in North Korea.’ These are disenfranchised youth. They know about oppression and they know about greed. They know what’s going on.”

Rep. Grijalva, whose 7th Congressional District includes Yuma, Chavez’s birthplace, told the rally, “these are troubling and saddening times.” He called on the crowd to exercise their responsibility and rights as Americans to change the country by voicing their opinions in a non-violent way.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org