Veteran West Side Activist Joins Idol With Street Named After Him

click to enlarge Veteran West Side Activist Joins Idol With Street Named After Him
Cesar E. Chavez Legacy & Educational Foundation

As he gradually steps away from his decades-long activist leadership post in San Antonio in lieu of younger faces, including his son, Jaime P.  Martinez can now say he shares yet something else with his idol, César Chávez.

Martinez was front and center in the years-long push to get a street in SA named after the civil rights icon. Now he can claim the same distinction.

On Friday, the city renamed Alta Vista Street to Jaime P. Martinez Place. It's located where he grew up, in the heart of SA's West Side, traditional destination for the city's immigrant population.

"Alta Vista is where it all started," said Martinez, 69. "My dreams, aspirations and where I was first mentored by my grandparents, who both very much loved America and their West Side neighborhood."

HIs grandparents also schooled the young Jaime on political activism. He took the path of labor rights, embracing the power of then-nascent Latino-led unions in the 1960s. It was also then that he met and worked with Chávez.

One of the highlights of his 50-year activist journey includes being an organizer of the Latino Civil Rights March in 1996, which drew more than 200,000 people to Washington, D.C.

Various local officials took part in the street-naming ceremony, which could be seen as symbolic for the passing of the generational activist torch.

"It was a very special day for our family to be to witness my father's lifetime work be recognized," said his son, Ernest Martinez, who has taken leadership of the SA-based César Chávez Legacy & Educational Foundation, which Jaime founded.

The new street signs come adorned with the renowned Black Eagle insignia of the United Farm Workers, the California-based union that Chávez co-founded and which propelled him to national icon status.