President Obama visited Kern County on Monday. He formally dedicated the Cesar Chavez center, known as La Paz, as a national monument. The over 100 acre site is where Chavez lived and organized United Farm Worker movements. More than 7,000 people attended the event in the rural town of Keene.
It's being called a historic day in the San Joaquin Valley and it's a first for local residents who saw the President on local soil. Obama stopped in Keene, the former home of Cesar Chavez and headquarters for UFW.
"In the years to come, generations of Americans will stand where we stand and see a piece of history; a tribute to a great man and a great movement," said President Obama.
Over 7,000 people piled into the facility, which is on rugged terrain by the Tehachapi mountains. Hundreds of students were invited, including David Martinez of Arvin High School in Kings County.
"Not everyone from our community gets to see Obama. Who from our community gets to go around and say, 'Hey, that Obama, I saw him,'" said Martinez.
Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor of Fresno was friends with Chavez. He brought pictures that were taken before Chavez's death in 1993. He says coming back here and seeing the dedication was more like a pilgrimage.
"It means a lot, not only to Hispanics, but to those of us who also admire Cesar Chavez's legacy of love, compassion and hard work," said Kapoor.
Those who knew Chaves say it would have been difficult for him to accept the grand gesture that was Monday's event, and that's part of what made him a special man.
"I want them to learn about a small man, guided by enormous faith and a righteous cause," said Obama.
The national monument is the 389th in the national parks system.