Two years and a million misfires ago, local Latino groups began a push to rename a street in Dallas in honor of Cesar Chavez.
No luck at Industrial Boulevard
, Ross Avenue
or Young Street
, but the saga
reached a poetic finish as the first signs went up today, lining the road to the Dallas Farmers Market with the civil rights leader's name. With crews out installing new signs from the 200 to 2700 blocks of South Central Expressway (two days ahead of the schedule first announced), city council member Steve Salazar joined other officials in the Flag Room at City Hall to officially unveil the new sign.
"We are better because of this as a city," Salazar said, recalling Chavez's 1989 visit to Dallas to speak out against the use of DDT on grapes. As for the messy road it took Salazar and other name-change supporters to get here, he was strictly upbeat. "As Cesar Chavez did many times ... if you persevere, you can achieve what you set out to accomplish," Salazar said. "It wasn't about the street. It was about the person."
Salazar, fellow council members Delia Jasso, Tennell Atkins and Carolyn Davis and Mayor Tom Leppert all spoke at the ceremony for the benefit of about 20 activists who championed the issue.
Renato de los Santos had just begun his one-year term as president of the League of United Latin American Citizens' Dallas chapter when the issue came up in May 2008. After voters rejected the name change along Industrial Boulevard, de los Santos told Unfair Park, some leaders were willing to shelve the issue for a while and focus on priorities with a lower profile, like students' dropout rate, housing and business development in the Latino community.
Students from El Centro College, University of North Texas, UT-Dallas and UT-Arlington were the ones who kept the effort alive, de los Santos said, selling T-shirts and helping supporters regroup around a series of alternative streets, before finally settling on a stretch of Central Expressway.
Salazar pointed out how appropriate the new name is: "When people ask, 'Where is the farmers' market?' now they'll say, 'It's on Cesar Chavez."