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Honoring the legacy of César Estrada Chávez

By Federico Martínez,
Special Contributor to La Prensa

Honoring the legacy of César Chávez, a cultural event scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, September 20, 2014 at Toledo’s historic Ohio Theatre & Event Center, 3114 Lagrange St., seeks to dispel any myths about the famed civil rights leader during a discussion panel that will address the farm labor leader’s legacy. The recently released film, César Chávez, will also be shown during the event.

The program is free and open to the public.

The movie, which will be shown at 2:30 p.m., features Chicago-born Michael Peña as César Chávez and America Ferrera as Chávez’s wife, Helen; the documentary film chronicles the birth of the modern day US-American labor movement and how the famed civil rights leader embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle to bring dignity to farmworkers.

Sr. Chávez died April 23, 1993 at the age of 66.

The 2014 film, which focuses on the first half of Chávez’s life, also offers a glimpse of his personal challenges, including his struggle to balance his duties as a husband and father—he was the father of eight children—with those of a civil rights leader.

A 4 p.m. discussion panel will include Dr. Manuel Caro, a former college professor and administrator, and expert in Chicano/Latino history, who also served as a sergeant during the Vietnam War. The oldest of 10 children, he was born and raised in Toledo’s Old South End. His mother was pregnant with him when his migrant farmworker family moved from El Paso, TX to Toledo.

Other panelists include Baldemar Velásquez, president and founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), which has set international precedents in labor history as his Toledo-based organization continues the fight for human rights for workers and immigrants. As a child he grew up in a migrant farmworker family in Texas, migrating to the Midwest to work in the fields.

Sr. Velásquez said program’s like Saturday’s event will help preserve Chávez’s legacy. Velásquez and Chávez frequently worked together during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. “In my many talks with César, what stands out is his commitment and love of organizing the oppressed for self-determination, to speak for themselves. This should be his written legacy and inspiration for those of us who continue to organize workers and oppressed peoples,” Sr. Velásquez informed this reporter.

Panelist Mark Heller, managing attorney for Toledo’s Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.’s Migrant Farmworker and Immigration Program, has spent decades advocating for farmworker and immigrant rights.

Schedule of Events:

  • 1 p.m., performances by El Corazón de México Ballet Folkorico;
  • 2 p.m., relating history and the film to current challenges by the panelists;
  • 2:30 p.m., César Chávez 2014 movie;
  • 2:30 p.m., crafts and other activities for young children;
  • 4 p.m., open question and answer session with panelists;
  • 5 p.m., light refreshments.


A repeat showing of the film will be held at 2:30 p.m., on Sunday, September 21. A $4 admission fee will be charged for this second showing.


The Sept. 20th event is presented by United North with co-sponsorship by La Prensa, El Camino Real restaurants, Cocina de Carlos restaurant, and el Consulado de México.

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/16/14 19:40:46 -0700.




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