Legacy of Cesar Chavez Alive and Well at Event

Relative Pays Tribute to Civil Rights Leader in Hispanic Heritage Month Speech

Sept. 28, 2009

“¡Si se puede!” Yes, it can be done.

These simple, yet powerful words formed the message that farm labor leader Cesar Chavez promoted throughout his lifetime. Those words echoed again Thursday night when Chavez’s granddaughter spoke on campus to celebrate the civil rights leader’s life.

Christine Chavez spoke before students, faculty and staff gathered in the UT Dallas Galaxy Room as part of a series of lectures to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). Ms. Chavez remembered her grandfather as a tireless, nonviolent defender of farm workers, civil rights and the labor movement. She recounted his ability to turn even routine tasks into teachable moments.

“He took us to the grocery store, but it wasn’t to shop—it was to hand out leaflets about the boycotts,” Chavez said.

Citing Mr. Chavez’s crusade for nonviolent change, Ms. Chavez recalled episodes of nonviolent protest in which she and other family members were arrested, including an incident when she was only 4 years old.

The Cesar Chavez Hispanic Heritage Celebration began with mariachi music performed by the Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company.

“This presentation really struck my attention,” said John Moore, a freshman majoring in psychology. “This is my first cultural event to attend on campus. I like the mariachi music.”

Cesar Chavez labored in the fields and vineyards of California and witnessed firsthand the hardships endured by migrant farm workers. He dedicated his life to improving labor conditions and raised attention to the cause with a series of boycotts and hunger strikes. Christine Chavez is one of Mr. Chavez’s 31 grandchildren, many of whom still speak at events nationwide on behalf of their grandfather and the movement he founded.

“Since my grandfather’s passing, he has been honored in so many ways,” Ms. Chavez said. “I think it is important to recognize his work. It is my hope that when people think about farm workers, that they think about Cesar Chavez.”

The speech and a buffet dinner were sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Community Engagement, the Multicultural Center, the Student Union & Activities Advisory Board and Dining Services.


Media contacts: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, Brandon.webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Christine Chavez

Cesar Chavez was honored in both word and in music last week as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Above: Christine Chavez discussed her grandfather’s legacy in a lecture at the Student Union. Below: The Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company opened the celebration with a mariachi performance.

Mariachi band

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