Mar 312010
 
Authors: Allison Welter

If you asked junior human development and family studies major Mayra Granados who Cesar Chavez was before she began college, she would have said a boxer.

Since then, Granados has gained a “piece of her pride that was missing” by learning about the life and legacy of the Mexican-American activist.

“Cesar Chavez giving Latinos the confidence to stand up for their rights inspires me to stand up for immigrants and give them a voice as well,” Granados said.

Wednesday night, the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom hosted the Community Celebration and High School Awards to honor Chavez’s life and legacy and local high school students for their commitment to the continued fight for social justice.

An individual with roots as a disenfranchised farm worker, Chavez labored to develop organizations that would protect the farmer. In 1975, Chavez’s union passed the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act. Today, it is the only law protecting the right for farmers to unionize.In addition to his work for farmers’ unions, Chavez led campaigns against economic and racial discrimination in urban areas.

“Too many human spirits and dreams are still crushed by poverty and racism, that is unacceptable,” said Rich Salas, assistant director of El Centro. “We must all come together –– from all cultural backgrounds –– to fight for equality.”

Salas, also a member of the night’s band Grupo Aztlan, said that at times, even Chavez and his fellow activists partied and encouraged the crowd to eat and enjoy themselves.

“He brought people together, just like tonight, from all backgrounds,” Salas said between songs.

After food and music, CSU Provost Rick Miranda extended a welcome to the night’s attendees, emphasizing Chavez’s positive influence on the country.

Spoken word performances by Ralph Lazo, a graduate student seeking his Master’s degree in ethnic studies, and junior ethnic studies major Kim Ford, delved into issues such as racism and poverty.

Ford shared her poetry with the crowd of more than 100 people in remembrance of Chavez’s legacy.

“To speak at something in honor of him is something I’m grateful for, I feel very privileged to honor him in that way,” Ford said.

Awards were given to local high school students throughout the night for work done at their schools that embodied Chavez and the words of Granados and sophomore sociology major Emanuel Brito.

Brito is a child of illegal immigrants who now have citizenship in America. His father knew friends of Chavez and was proud that he created a positive change in this country.

“He was their inspiration for a better life and my inspiration for a better educated life,” said Brito, in his speech to the attendees.

The celebrations for Chavez in the CSU community will wrap up tomorrow with “500 years of Chicano History” by Jesus “Chuy” Negrete, a history told through running ballads. The event will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in LSC Room 230.

Staff Writer Allison Welter can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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