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Monday, April 07, 2014

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 4-6

Just a Thought: Final words on Cesar Chavez
By Steve Walker

The past ten days has been a whirlwind of Cesar E. Chavez events in San Antonio honoring the legacy of the civil rights activist. The previous week it was all about the premiere of the Cesar Chavez Movie showing at the Palladium Theatre that drew over 300 supporters to the red carpet.

Dignitaries included the movie director Diego Luna, the producer Pablo Cruz and one of the sons of Chavez, Paul and his son-in-law Arturo Rodriguez who is the President of the United Farm Workers Union. (UFW)

That event was followed by the Cesar E. Chavez Dinner at the El Tropicano Hotel downtown that hosted nearly as many guests as the movie premiere.

During that event, the Cesar E. Chavez Legacy & Educational Foundation awarded Pablo Schneider the 2014 Conscience Builder Award for his demonstration of dignity and character in the community. Schneider is a contributor to Fox News Latino and Latino Leadership.

The Foundation also awarded Richard “Guero Polkas” Davila a popular long time DJ at KEDA Radio, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award. The final award, the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Gabriel Velasquez the Founder and Organizer of Una Noche de La Gloria-Contemporary Art in the Cultural Zone for his continued involvement in the Hispanic community.  

UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo who would also serve as the Grand Marshall for the 18th Annual Cesar E. Chavez March two days later, served as the after dinner speaker.  
During the Saturday March, thousands of people of all ages flocked to the streets carrying signs and banners and participated in the event to honor the man who coined the phrase “Si Se Puede.”

Constable’s Deputies rode bikes, other participants rode horses, and still others drove classic cars. They all mingled with political candidates and their supporters along with elected officials waving at the crowd as they streamed down the two and a half mile March route ending at the Alamo and more speakers.

One of Cesar Chavez’ grand-daughters, Cristina, also marched the two and a half miles and spoke to the enthusiastic crowd of marchers and audience assembled at the Alamo.

Finally, this past Monday the final celebration of Cesar E. Chavez spotlighted the icon’s two year service in the Navy. Chavez joined the Navy at the age of 17 in 1946. Once separated from the military he returned to organize the farm workers for better wages and working conditions and the rest is history.

During the ceremony, Gabriel Velasquez, Tony Mandujano, Jaime Martinez and I spoke. 

I happily shared my memory of meeting Chavez in 1982 on one of his visits to San Antonio and interviewing him as a reporter at KENS-5 Eyewitness News. A soft spoken articulate speaker, I was taken by his calm demeanor and his ability to put you at ease when engaging him in conversation.

According to Foundation Organizer Jaime Martinez a concerted effort is underway across the county to lobby for a Cesar Chavez National Holiday. Currently only three states recognize a Cesar E. Chavez State Holiday to include Texas.

Ironically Monday was March 31st the actual birthday of the civil rights icon. To that I say “Happy Birthday” and “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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