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Cesar Chavez brought to life

Tim Willert

NORTHEAST GLENDALE -- They wore straw hats and bandannas, carrying

signs calling for equality, justice, and human dignity.

Dozens of elementary and middle school students, many portraying


migrant farm workers, performed a series of short plays and poetry

readings Monday at Glendale Community College to recognize the

contributions of labor leader Cesar Chavez.

“Cesar Chavez helped us get more rights,” chanted students from


Garvanza Elementary in Highland Park. “Cesar Chavez helped us to get more


Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers union, died in 1993. The

state made his March 31 birthday a holiday in 2000, and Gov. Gray Davis

signed legislation to create the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and


GCC officials, with the help of a $17,000 grant from the state,

organized a series of service projects to educate elementary, middle and


high school students about Chavez, including community beautification

projects, marches, workshops and health fairs.

“This is about the process of learning about the life and legacy of

Cesar Chavez,” said Kim Bryant, a project coordinator. “This can be done

through community service, service learning and theater.”

The project culminated with Monday’s performance and a service fair on

campus designed to promote Chavez’s values. Students from Mark Keppel

Elementary School participated in the fair.


Members of Chavez’s family were on hand -- including his wife and son

-- to thank students for participating.

“The idea of being of service to your community was central to my

father’s life and work,” Paul Chavez said.

Monday’s event was not the only event to recognize Chavez.

On Saturday, an estimated 250 people turned out for an event sponsored

by the city to commemorate Chavez at Glendale Civic Auditorium.

The inaugural event -- recommended by a citizen’s task force and

approved by the City Council -- featured live entertainment, speakers,

food and a documentary about Chavez.

“It was something that was very special for the city of Glendale,”

said Zizette Ayad, a senior administrative analyst with the city who

helped organize the event.