Speakers reflect on Chávez legacy

By Margaret Terry

The Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan celebrated the fifth annual commemoration of César Chávez on Friday night, April 14.

The event consisted of three speakers; Daniel Turner-Lloveras, a second year at Pritzker School of Medicine; Monica Vela, M.D., a physician at the University of Chicago Hospitals; and keynote speaker Julie Chávez Rodriguez, granddaughter of César Chávez and program director for the César E. Chávez Foundation.

Turner-Lloveras opened the event with some statistics about the state of health care of farm workers. She suggested two cultural factors to protect Latino health, including familiamismo and marianismo, meaning “family first” and “protection of health,” specifically during pregnancy.

“I believe the key to Latino health is through grassroots and community efforts,” Turner-Lloveras said.

Keynote speaker Julie Chávez Rodriguez, who holds a B.A. in Latino Studies with an emphasis on U.S.–Mexican Relations from the University of California-–Berkeley, spoke about her grandfather’s legacy. She also discussed the United Farm Workers Association, which her grandfather founded.

César Estrada Chávez attended school through the eighth grade and was self-taught during his lifetime. He launched the United Farm Workers in 1962, the first successful farmers union of its kind, through nonviolent means that included marches, fasting, and boycotts. The goal of the union, as it remains today, was to improve living conditions of farm workers.

On the topic of recent immigration laws, Chávez Rodriguez said that Latinos are “an integral part of our economy” and cannot be ignored politically.

Chávez Rodriguez concluded by reciting a speech that her grandfather gave in 1982, leaving the audience with a message regarding better conditions for farm workers in America: “Yes, it can be done.”

The event was sponsored by the Katz Center for Mexican Studies, the Center for Race Politics and Culture, Student Government, and the Office of Minority Student Affairs.