Clinton Praises Chavez, Obama Calls for Chavez Holiday

Hillary Clinton put out a statement this morning honoring the 81st anniversary of Cesar Chavez's birthday, and hours later Obama went one step further, calling for March 31 to be designated a national holiday in Chavez's honor.

"Under his leadership -- highlighted by nonviolent protest -- thousands of farmers across the country were able to secure improved wages and benefits, humane living and working conditions, and better job security," Clinton said. "Through his lifetime of service, he has paved the way for many, and provided inspiration for countless others."

The United Farm Workers, the union formed under Chavez's leadership in1966, endorsed Clinton for president in January. But it was Obama to call for a national holiday honoring Chavez.

"As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago," Obama said. "And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday."

Chavez's birthday is already a state holiday in California, where Chavez organized farm workers beginning in 1962. Actor Martin Sheen and guitarist Carlos Santana currently co-chair an organized effort to make Chavez's birthday a national holiday.