LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Cesar Chavez is an American labor leader and civil rights activist especially in Hispanic communities.
For more than 20 years, people in Lansing have wanted to honor him in a specific way.
Despite some hurdles, they continue to stand up for something they believe in and they say they aren’t backing down anytime soon.
Before speaking during a public hearing during the Lansing City Council meeting Monday night, many gathered outside the state Capitol for a rally.
“We’re going to remind them that we haven’t forgotten and we’re still here,” one man said.
“If 20 years is a good sign of ‘yeah we’re not letting this go’ we’re going to continue the fight,” Marisol Garcia said. “Lansing is supposed to be a welcoming city why is it so difficult to rename a street after a Latino hero actually.”
They want east and west Grand River Avenue to be renamed to honor Cesar Chavez. It would be called Cesar E. Chavez Ave.
“I think it’s something that brings the Latino community together and gives us a sense of belonging to the community,” Oscar Castaneda said. “It’s been said many times that Lansing is a welcoming city and many people will give you lip service and say ‘yes Lansing is a welcoming city’ but this is a little piece that will make it more real.”
Putting the measure up to a vote by the Lansing City Council has been delayed several times. During a rally held at the state Capitol Monday night ahead of the council meeting, many speakers said the delay, was due to social injustice.
Father Fred Thelen of Cristo Rey was in attendance and also spoke.
“We have Martin Luther King Blvd., we have Malcom X, ya know and lots of streets that have historical roots and lots of white folks and so it’s time for Cesar Chavez and it’s time, it’s more than time,” Fr. Thelen said.
While some understand the significance of making the name change, and aren’t necessarily against it, they asked the council to consider some of their ideas.
“I’m not against it at all but I would like to see the memory of Grand River Ave. still acknowledged in some way shape or form,” Dale Schrader said. “What I would like to ask city council tonight is to have ya know maybe a small sign that says “Historic Grand River Avenue..it’s Cesar Chavez on the books right? That’s good, but something about Grand River Avenue because people are going to be confused.”
“I think it would be much more beneficial to have a museum,” Loretta Stanaway said. “There are a lot of small little buildings in Old Town in particular that would be extremely well-suited to a museum.”
The Lansing City Council is set to vote on this measure on October 30th.