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Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 3-23

Just a Thought: Cesar Chavez Movie
By Steve Walker

The Cesar E. Chavez Movie starring Michael Pena, produced by Pablo Cruz and directed by Diego Luna will be shown in local theatres March 28th. The next day, March 29th the City of San Antonio will celebrate and participate in the 18th Annual Cesar E. Chavez March downtown beginning at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts and ending at the Alamo.

The movie however premiered March 12th at the Palladium at the Rim that hosted a reception and sneak preview that attracted over 300 excited invited guests. A few were also treated to a ride in a limo to the red carpet extravaganza. I was not one of them. However, I took lots of photos of guests walking the red carpet and posing with the likes of the middle son of Cesar Chavez, Paul Chavez and the son-in-law of Cesar Chavez, Arturo Rodriguez.
Readers may remember that two weeks ago I wrote a column entitled, “Si Se Puede” about Hispanic icon and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez who I was privileged to interview in 1982 as a reporter for KENS-5.

Both Paul Chavez and Arturo Rodriguez made special appearances along with Director Diego Luna and Producer Pablo Cruz at the premiere and mingled with the crowd during the reception posing for photos and shaking hands with Chavez admirers. Readers can views those photos on my photo blog Walker Report.

Rodriguez, who now runs the United Farm Workers Union established by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, has previously served as Grand Marshal in two previous marches in the Alamo City. Huerta has also served as a previous Grand Marshal. Meeting both of them was a thrill for me as well. I was able to spend some conversation time with Rodriguez during his two previous visits and again at the reception. It was a reunion of sorts.

Paul Chavez, Director Diego Luna, former Mayor Henry Cisneros who served as Mayor at the time I interviewed Chavez in 82, Mayor Julian Castro, Arturo Rodriguez and local businessman Henry Munoz all addressed the crowd moments before the movie began.

Director Diego Luna shared with the cheering crowd what an honor it was for him to direct the Pablo Cruz movie chronicling the life and struggles of the American farm workers with Chavez and Huerta.

Paul Chavez entertained the packed theatre with stories of his father’s mission to help organize the farm workers to ensure a living wage and better and safer conditions in the fields. He pointed out because of his father’s strategy to utilize non-violent tactics, the farm workers struggle became a moral cause with national support.

During Paul’s address he encouraged audience participation by getting them to loudly chant, “Si Se Puede,” the famous expression coined by Cesar Chavez which has become synonymous with the struggle of all minimum wage workers to receive better working conditions as well as the better wages. Like his father, Paul Chavez spoke softly into the mike but firmly in an articulate, calm, demeanor.

Local Chavez supporter and long time friend Jaime Martinez who was instrumental in successfully lobbying for the name change was also acknowledged by the energized crowd. In the earlier years Martinez walked numerous picket lines with Cesar Chavez.

With March 31st the official Cesar E. Chavez holiday, and March 29th the actual march, don’t forget the March 28th opening of the Cesar E. Chavez movie at a theatre near you.

In the words of Cesar Chavez, we shout, “Si Se Puede.” 

And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”  

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist

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