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Cesar Chavez's home is designated national historic site

September 15, 2011 |  3:36 pm

La Paz

Cesar Chavez’s California retreat has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the designation of the site in the Tehachapi Mountains where the labor leader lived and led the farm workers movement the last 22 years of his life.

Salazar, who called Chavez "one of the heroes of the 20th century,'' made the announcement at a gathering of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington on Wednesday night.

The 187-acre Nuestra Senora Reina de La Paz in Keene, southeast of Bakersfield, served as headquarters of the United Farm Workers and Chavez’s residence from 1971 to 1993. It is now home to the National Chavez Center. Chavez was buried there in 1993.

The listing is largely honorific. The site is one of a number of places in the West associated with Chavez's life that are under consideration for designation as national historic landmarks or additions to the national park system. The National Park Service staff is expected to send its recommendations to Congress early next year.

 “For my father, La Paz was a personal refuge from bitter struggles in agricultural valleys and big cities, a spiritual harbor where he recharged batteries, drew fresh inspiration and prepared for the battles ahead,” Paul F. Chavez, Cesar Chavez's middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation, said in a statement. “It was a place where many dedicated people spent years of their lives working with Cesar Chavez for social justice, inspiring generations of Americans from all walks of life who never worked on a farm to social and political activism."

The National Register of Historic Places includes more than 87,000 historic buildings, structures, districts, sites and objects. La Paz was nominated for listing by California’s state historic preservation officer. A 12-member advisory board then recommended the designation to Salazar, who approved it after visiting the site. 

As the leader of the United Farm Workers union, Chavez staged a massive grape boycott that raised awareness of the plight of predominantly Latino farmworkers. His efforts were credited with inspiring millions of other Latinos in their fight for more educational opportunities, better housing and more political power.

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Photo: Villa La Paz, a conference and education center, is located at the National Chavez Center at La Paz in Keene, Ca. The site has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Credit: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

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