WASHINGTON–Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz (La Paz) – the place where labor leader Cesar E. Chavez lived and led the farm worker movement during his last 22 years – has been added to the National Register of Historic Places at the national level of significance.
“Cesar Chavez is one of the heroes of the 20th century, leading a non-violent movement that improved working conditions for agricultural workers and bettered the lives of thousands of Hispanic men and women and other minorities throughout the United States,” Salazar said. “By adding La Paz, now known as the National Chavez Center, to the National Register of Historic Places, we are honoring his legacy and inviting Americans to learn more about the life and work of this extraordinary man.”
“The listing of La Paz reflects an ongoing commitment to ensuring that the contributions of all Americans are well represented by the National Register and National Historic Landmarks programs,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, which administers the programs for the Department of the Interior.
“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,” said Paul F. Chavez, Cesar Chavez's middle son and president of the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “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. I commend Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior for officially marking the significance of La Paz and helping the world experience this important history.”
The designation of La Paz, which served as the headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and Cesar Chavez's residence from 1971-1993, supports the goal of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to reconnect the American people to their natural, cultural, and historical heritage.
Secretary Salazar made the announcement yesterday evening during remarks to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where he and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis received the Chair's Award honoring their careers in public service and their lifelong dedication to improving the lives of all Americans.
La Paz is located in the Tehachapi Mountains of Kern County, Calif. It is nationally significant for its association with Chavez, a nationally prominent and charismatic leader of the American farm workers labor movement.
Secretary Salazar visited the site in June along with a broad spectrum of influential business, cultural leaders and scholars from the Latino community to discuss how the Department of the Interior can better integrate and highlight past and ongoing contributions of Latino women and men into the National Park Service.
Purchased in 1970 by Hollywood film producer Ed Lewis and turned over to the farm worker movement La Paz quickly became a crucial center of labor and farm worker organizing activities. Thousands of union members and supporters visited the complex to receive training, plan with union leaders, and hear directly from Chavez and others about the late 20th century American labor movement.
The years 1970-1984 represented an enormously important phase in the development and modernization of the American farm workers movement under Chavez's leadership.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of historically significant properties. It was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and currently includes more than 87,000 historic buildings, structures, districts, sites, and objects.
Properties are nominated for listing in the National Register by states, tribes, and federal agencies, and can be listed at the state and local as well as the national level of significance. La Paz was nominated for listing in the National Register at the national level of significance by California's State Historic Preservation Officer in July 2011.
More information about La Paz and other properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including those important to other aspects of the Civil Rights movement, can be found at www.nps.gov/nr.