Assemblymember Luis Alejo tweeted this 
photograph of President Barack Obama at 
Cesar E. Chavez National Monument Monday. 
-by Luis Alejo

Describing it as a "day that has been a long time coming," President Barack Obama made modern history Monday by announcing the creation of a monument to honor the late labor and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.
The Cesar E. Chavez National Monument becomes the 398th unit in the National Park Service system, and the first honoring a Latino born later than the 1700s, the Park Service told CNN.

It's no coincidence the move comes less than a month before Election Day, as the president maintains a strong lead among Latinos. A big turnout among Latino supporters in states where the race is close could help Obama win re-election against GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The president spoke at a ceremony in Keene, California, on land known as Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, where, from the 1970s until the early '90s, Chavez lived and led his farm Nuestra Senora Reina de la Pazworker movement.

Decades ago, Obama said, when Chavez began his farm worker movement, "no one seemed to care about the invisible farm workers who picked the nation's food -- bent down in the beating sun, living in poverty, cheated by growers, abandoned in old age, unable to demand even the most basic rights."

"Cesar cared," the president said. "In his own peaceful and eloquent way he made other people care too." Chavez's organized labor marches and other protests, including a boycott of table grapes, led to "some of the first farm worker contracts in history," Obama said. "Let us honor his memory, but most importantly let us live up to his example."

Chavez's movement "was sustained by a generation of organizers who stood up and spoke out and urged others to do the same," Obama said.

Chavez, Obama said, believed that "when someone who works 12 hours a day in the fields can earn enough to put food on the table -- maybe save up enough to buy a home -- that lifts up our entire economy."

Obama acknowledged that there's still "more work to do" and "the recession we're fighting our way back from is still taking a toll -- especially in Latino communities which already faced high unemployment and poverty rates."
Earlier Monday, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 30 Latino organizations, lauded the move.