Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez, one of Southern California's most renowned Hispanic singer-songwriters, has been named one of the winners of this year's National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship award.

As a teenager, Sanchez, a son of Mexican immigrants, joined the struggle for better conditions for farmworkers, working alongside legendary rights activist Cesar Chavez.

The 61-year-old artist has since been involved in numerous political and social causes in California, and his message of activism through his Los Alacranes (The Scorpions) band has made him an emblematic figure in the Chicano community for more than 40 years.

"Music is like a weapon for me," the activist told Efe in an interview, adding that a person is "stronger holding a guitar than a pistol."

The musician, who plays 10 different instruments, says he wants to leave a legacy and a message behind for the new generations.

"I sing for people who are trapped in injustice, for education, history, heritage, everything that has to do with learning and studying," Sanchez said.

He said of being one of this year's nine recipients of this prestigious award, one of the country's highest honors in the arts, that he did not expect it but accepted it in honor "of all the farmworkers, students and all those immersed in a struggle." EFE