Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cesar E. Chavez National Monument - Keene, California

Cesar Chavez Grave - Keene, California
I recently visited the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in the tiny mountain community of Keene, California. This site was incorporated into the National Park System in 2012. I don't live all that far from it and I've passed by it a bunch of times, yet I'd never stopped. Even on this trip the real motivation was to eat lunch at the historic Keene Cafe.

So what is the Cesar Chavez National Monument? The site is the former home of Cesar Chavez and the former headquarters of the United Farm Workers of America union. It is now Cesar's final resting place, a visitors center and a garden.
Grave Statue - Keene, California
There is an exhibit and gift shop inside of the visitors center. The exhibit apparently changes from time-to-time. On my visit it was an extensive collection of photographs of the 1960's Delano grape strike. Some of the photographs were truly great, some were snapshots used to fill space. I was disappointing that not a lot of information was given about why there was a strike or what the outcome was.

Just outside of the visitors center is Cesar's grave. It sits in the middle of a small but lush garden. Adjacent to the lush garden is a small desert garden. The site is scenic, but there isn't a whole lot to see or do.
Single Rose - Keene, California
Cesar Chavez is celebrated as a national hero. His efforts improved the working conditions of those in the agriculture industry. The positive effects of his endeavors are experienced by many each day.

Cesar Chavez was also a man of contradictions. While claiming to be nonviolent, he founded and was the leader of a violent group. The United Farm Workers made threats and committed crimes, caused bodily harm and destroyed private property. Under Cesar's leadership, many companies that didn't hire strictly union and many non-union workers were literally harmed. He also amassed much wealth on the backs of the poor field workers that he was claiming to help. 
Window To The Colorful World - Keene, California
Those contradictions weren't mentioned at the Cesar Chavez National Monument. Only the positive aspects of his life were talked about. I suppose that's how everyone wishes themselves to be remembered. And since this is where he is eternally buried, perhaps it is best if it stays that way.

The photographs in this post were captured using a Nokia Lumia 1020. It doesn't matter if the only camera you have is a cell phone. It doesn't matter if it is mid-day lighting. Vision is what matters most in photography.

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