Taking part in an eight-state civil rights awareness drive this week, student organizations and the Lory Student Center will offer students and the community an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez through a series of events.
This year’s celebration titled “Educating the Heart” will continue Monday with a panel of farm workers from Northern Colorado who will talk about their first hand experience, what it’s like working in fields and what they feel about immigration, said Estevan Jaimes, a student leader from the planning committee.
Jaimes organized a Monday night play that features a 14-year-old immigrant boy.
Based on a true story, Edgar came to the United States to escape being co-opted in MS-13, the largest gang in Central America. However, due to strict immigration and asylum laws, a Denver federal judge sent Edgar back home.
He was killed 17 days later. After the play, on Tuesday there will be a discussion and a workshop with the theatre group De Novo that will present the history of how they came up with the idea of the play as well as the research and the human effort they put into it.
The Lory Student Center Governing Board and the Residence Hall Association are also hosting a campus-wide clothing drive directed towards the Sunrise Community Center in Greeley. It started Friday and will end Tuesday.
“This year’s clothing drive will be the biggest and the best we’ve had yet,” Jaimes said. “We’re able to keep alive the spirit of helping the farm workers.”
The events coming up next week are in celebration of the Civil Rights Movement, but more so, bring it into perspective, said Lance Wright, director of Campus Activities.
Wright said students need to understand that civil rights struggles are not just part of history and there’s still work to be done. Cesar Chavez Celebrating is an opportunity to do so that increases dialogue about immigration and labor practices that he said are still unfair.
“It’s important for a major university like CSU to take a stand and celebrate all leaders, not just the ones celebrated through K-12 education, but also women and people of color,” Salas said.
The events are preceded by, a poetry and politics discussion presented by Women’s Programs and Studies, a kick-off event that included keynote speaker Luis Leon from the University of Denver and a live music event hosted by the Latino Greek Council last week.
While the celebration is currently acknowledged in eight U.S states, the planning committee hopes to make Cesar Chavez Week an annual, national celebration.
“If in our own backyard, we can’t raise awareness and education through the works of Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, and Dolores Huerta, we’re missing the boat.” Salas said.
Staff writer Lucia Papureanu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.