April 14, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 13

current issue
archive / search
Chronicle RSS Feed

    Actor, activist Olmos to speak at Chavez event

    By Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    The student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan will commemorate the life of Cesar Chavez Friday, April 15, with guest lectures. In 2003, the United States Postal Service paid tribute to Chavez when it issued the Cesar E. Chavez commemorative postage stamp. A second-generation American, Chavez was born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Ariz. He died April 23, 1993, in San Luis, Ariz.

    This Friday, the University and the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan will commemorate the life of Cesar Chavez, a Mexican migrant worker who became one of the most influential voices for workers’ rights in the 20th century. This fourth annual Chavez event will feature a speech by noted actor and activist Edward James Olmos.

    The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, in International House’s Assembly Hall.

    “In commemorating the life of Chavez, we will be raising awareness of Chicano history and the unique role of Latinos in the United States,” said Alejandro Flores, a second-year and one of the event organizers.

    Touted by Robert F. Kennedy as “one of the heroic figures of our time,” Chavez raised awareness of the deplorable working conditions of migrant farm workers across America. As founder of the National Farm Workers Association, he led nonviolent protests that precipitated the passing of landmark legislation for farm workers’ rights.

    Olmos, who is perhaps best known for his Academy Award-winning performance as a Chicano math teacher in the film Stand and Deliver, has worked aggressively to bring Latino culture into the consciousness of mainstream America.

    His most recent project, called Americanos: Latino Life in the United States, brings to light the difficulties and issues of identity that exist among Latinos. As keynote speaker, Olmos will discuss Chavez’s legacy, as well as its implications for present struggles of Chicanos and other minority Americans, said Flores. “He will stress the growing importance of Latinos and their contributions to American culture, and the formation of a new American identity.”

    In addition to Olmos’ presentation, the event will feature a lecture on the history of the Chicano movement, presented by Jesus Garcia, executive director of the Little Village Community Development Corp. in Chicago, and Juan Mora-Torres, professor of Latin-American history at DePaul University.

    Flores said the lecture will not only explore the history of the Chicano movement, but also “its significance for the future of the Mexican-American community.”

    For more information about the event, contact Flores at aflores@uchicago.edu.