“It is not enough to teach our young people to be successful…so they can realize their ambitions, so they can earn good livings, so they can accumulate the material things that this society bestows. Those are worthwhile goals. But it is not enough to progress as individuals while our friends and neighbors are left behind.” -Cesar Chavez
Look California in the eye with Western Center’s 2021 Annual Report
As we celebrate Cesar Chavez today, and as we wrap up Women’s History Month, we recognize and uplift the trailblazers who laid the groundwork for history being made today – like the impending confirmation of this country’s first Black woman Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, and by the Dolores Huerta Foundation and its Executive Director Camila Chavez, a 2022 recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for their work “strengthening underrepresented communities by training and inspiring the next generation of leaders.” Judge Jackson stands on the shoulders of many, like Jane Bolin, Constance Baker Motley, and Julia Cooper Mack, all of whom helped set this stage for her to take, as well as community members who provide constant, often quiet support, like those mentioned at her confirmation hearings. Camila Chavez, daughter of civil rights leader Dolores Huerta with whom she co-founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and niece of Cesar Chavez, continues to build on their legacies of fierce community activism and leadership in California.
We are grateful for the people – the many women – who form the supportive backbone of our communities: workers, caregivers, and everyone whose labor is regularly undervalued but fundamentally essential. Until we bring parity to our value systems, inequity, discrimination, and poverty will continue to threaten our shared futures. In spite of the two-year health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, California has the world’s 5th largest economy, 189 billionaires, and a steadily increasing state budget surplus. A lot of “success.” But as Chavez pointed out, it is not enough. In the midst of its success, California has not addressed the unsustainable and ever-rising cost to live here, and more people are going unhoused.
Our 2021 Annual Report highlights Western Center’s work throughout 2021, and presents portraits from photographer Gale Filter, captured through his relationships with unhoused communities in Sacramento – specifically via the organizations ShowUp Sac and Mercy Pedalers. We hope that by viewing this report, you will look at our collective responsibility to make things better for our neighbors most impacted by poverty and other systems of injustice.
Western Center’s efforts to protect people from eviction, increase pay for low wage workers, expand access to health care, and get more money into people’s pockets is in service of one quest – economic dignity for all and its direct correlation, racial justice. We will not stop until we get there. Please join the fight by getting to know and supporting our work, seeking service opportunities in your own community, and getting to know all of your neighbors.