Celebrating Chavez

Mar 222011
Authors: Samantha Baker

Starting tomorrow and continuing through next week, community members have a chance to become a part of a civil rights leader’s legacy and say, “Si se puede,” or, “it can be done.

The life and legacy of cultural icon and “heroic figure” Cesar Chavez will be honored in a weeklong celebration of speakers, films, theater productions and more at CSU. This year’s theme is “human dignity and spirit through resistance, endurance and empowerment.”

“The significance and impact of Cesar Chavez life transcends any one cause or struggle,” said Rich Salas, assistant director for El Centro and Greek Life as well as a co-chairperson for the CSU Cesar Chavez Planning committee, in an e-mail to the Collegian. “His example of doing the right thing even when facing insurmountable odds pays off for humanity.”

The CSU celebration began 15 years ago as a collaborative effort between El Centro and other departments across campus. Today, the events are sponsored by 17 student organizations and Fort Collins community businesses including: the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, the Department of Ethical Studies and the Multicultural Greek Council.

John Akira Harrold, a senior ethnic studies major and volunteer coordinator for the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center at CSU, stressed the importance of Chavez’s work, as he said it extends beyond those who were directly affected by it.

“We are indebted to those whose labor rights have been not secure,” Harrold said. “Even if you are not exploited as a worker you are in a relationship with those who are in order to get the goods and services we have today at a cheap price.” Citing recent union struggles in Wisconsin, Harrold emphasizes how historic Chavez’s contributions to society are even today.

Brad Thoms, a sophomore natural resource recreation and tourism major, agrees. “It may not affect you directly but it is still important to know about and know it’s going on around the world.”

Chavez was a social activist and farm-workers advocate in the 1960s.

In addition to being a co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association and the United Farm Workers, Chavez was responsible for leading a five-year, nonviolent boycott against California grape industries. He died 1993 at the age of 66. In Colorado, he is remembered annually with celebratory events as well as classifying his birthday, March 31, as a holiday.

“We encourage and welcome everyone to attend the Cesar Chavez celebration,” Salas said.

Events begin tomorrow with the Apartment Life Cesar Chavez Celebration at 6 p.m. at the International House Lobby and continue through Chavez’s birthday on Thursday, March 31. The concluding event features an awards ceremony recognizing local high school students who exemplify the ideals Chavez set down.
All events are free to attend and open to the public.

Staff writer Samantha Baker can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

Annual Apartment Life Cesar Chavez Celebration, 6-7:10 p.m.

Monday, March 28
“Latino Education & Advocacy Days – Live Webcast, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Screening of the film “Walkout,” 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 29

“Duende de Lorca” Presented by Teatro Milagro, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 30
“Cultura Atravez del Arte,” 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Thursday, March 31
Cesar Chavez Community Celebration and High School Awards, 5:30 p.m.

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