Obama speech
President Obama addresses the crowd in Keene between campaign stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco.


More than 7,000 people made the journey to the tiny Central Valley town of Keene on Monday to witness President  Barack Obama dedicate the César E. Chávez National Monument.

Although many high-profile guests such as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Hollywood starlet Rosario Dawson were in attendance, the event’s focus was set squarely on the farm workers, school children and Chávez family members in attendance.

“Today, La Paz joins a long line of national monuments,  stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon ””  monuments that tell the story of who we are as Americans,” Obama said. “It’s a story of natural wonders and modern marvels, of fierce battles and quiet progress. But it’s also a story of people ””  of determined, fearless, hopeful people who have always been willing to devote their lives to making this country a little more just and a little more free.”

Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, as the memorial site is also known, was Chávez’s home for the last 22 years of his life. The 187-acre monument site in the Tehachapi foothills is also where the former civil rights leader is buried.

The site is open daily to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more details, visit the César E. Chávez National Monument website.

Audience members try to catch a glimpse of the president after his speech. More than 7,000 people from 25 states gathered at César Chávez’s former home to hear remarks from President Obama.
Country music singer Kris Kristofferson warms up the crowd. The outspoken songwriter befriended Chávez in the ’70s and recently performed a series of concerts for the UFW’s 50th anniversary.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar emphasizes the importance of America’s national parks. The Chávez National Monument is the 398th unit of the National Park System.
Members of a folklorico dance group from nearby Delano prepare for their performance. Students from around the Central Valley were bused in for the event, and many performed on stage while the crowd waited.
Actress Rosario Dawson will portray Dolores Huerta  in a forthcoming Hollywood biopic.
Event-goers wait to board shuttle buses running from Tehachapi to Keene. Many arrived as early as 5 a.m. to catch the president’s 11 a.m. speech.
A young supporter delights the crowd as anticipation for the president’s arrival grows. Chants of “si, se puede” were heard throughout the day.

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