A fight for rights

Mar 272007
Authors: Anica Wong

In recognition of all Caesar Chavez achieved for migrant farm workers and the Latino culture, a little girl, her father and Chavez himself took the stage on Tuesday night in the Lory Student Center Theatre.

“Papi, Me and Cesar Chavez,” reenacted one of Chavez’s famous marches – with actors portraying the famous activist and his followers on their journey to equality.

Among the audience members was Christobal Franco, a Ph.D. student who participated in one of Chavez’s many marches.

“The marches were very purposeful. We thought the Anglos were exploiting migrant workers. We were very determined to make a difference,” he said. “But there were a lot of hardships involved with the marches.”

The play, written by Tony Garcia for traveling theatre group, Su Teatro, focused on 10-year-old Gloria and her father, who was never given a name.

Chavez’s character takes the stage as a potential evil-doer as Gloria’s father warned her early on not to talk to him.

When Gloria finally meets Chavez, she questions his intentions, saying he is “as dangerous as an idea can be.”

The father believes Chavez is dangerous because as a migrant farm worker, Chavez’s request to strike poses a threat to his livelihood and security.

The character of Gloria’s father represents the real men, women and children whom Chavez succeeded in convincing to risk their lives for freedom.

Throughout the play, Chavez’s platform grows in popularity and Gloria encourages her father to join her on the march to Sacramento.

After 1,000 people walked 200 miles, the police stopped them and told them to turn back or they were going to arrest Chavez.

“Don’t arrest him, arrest me, arrest all of us,” marchers pleaded.

After it was all said and done, in 1966 100,000 people ended up in Sacramento and employers agreed to contracts that would give workers more rights and a slight pay increase.

“(This week is important) because a man that had nothing could raise this much awareness should be given praise,” Reyna Anaya, a senior human development and family studies major, said. Anaya is also a part of the Cesar Chavez Committee.

Tony Garcia, the writer of the play and director of Su Teatro, said he was motivated to write the play because he wanted to have an affect on younger generations.

“A lot of kids know more about American Idol contestants than they do about Cesar Chavez,” he said.

Anaya agreed.

“It makes me sad that elementary kids don’t know who he is,” she said. “There needs to be a change so we can educate our youth about Cesar Chavez and basic human rights.”

Staff writer Anica Wong can be reached at news@collegian.com

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