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Justice for farmworkers: Dolores Huerta speech highlight of events honoring César Chávez

The lives and actions of César Chávez and New Mexican Dolores Huerta will be highlighted during the Farmworkers Awareness Week Celebration, from Monday, April 2, through Wednesday, April 4.

Día de la Mujer Campesina will celebrate female farmworkers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday in the Student Union Building Atrium at the University of New Mexico. “Rape in the Fields” will be shown for free at 5:45 p.m. in the SUB theater.

The celebration continues with Farmworker Student Appreciation Day and events that honor the farmworker movement from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, and Wednesday, April 4, in the SUB.

About 260 students from schools throughout Albuquerque Public Schools will head to Sanchez Farms in the South Valley on Thursday, April 5. The students will learn about traditional herbs, medicine, the planting season, water irrigation, sustainable foods and more. They also will learn more about Chávez and Huerta, their rally for farmworkers rights and the formation of the United Farm Workers Union, which they co-founded.

It all leads up to the 25th Annual César Chávez Day Fiesta on April 7 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The fiesta was created by the Recuerda a César Chávez Committee, created in 1993 to celebrate his life, according to co-founder Chuy Martinez.

In the 25 years that the fiesta has been held, the committee has managed to get a boulevard and community center named after Chávez as well as secure funds from Albuquerque’s public art program for a monument of Chávez at Broadway and Avenida César Chávez SE. It also continues to push for a state holiday recognizing Chávez who died in 1993. The committee also worked to get a South Valley park renamed Dolores Huerta Gateway Park. Huerta, 87, will be the keynote speaker at the César Chávez Day Fiesta.

“He’s one of the biggest icons of the Hispanic community in the United States,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get that much recognition in the 1960s, although the Kennedys – Robert Kennedy – supported him a lot.

“But it was during the civil rights movement, and there was so many movements throughout the United States (at that time) that the United Farm Workers union became well-known but not to the extent that it should’ve been. … We often talk about César, but they were a unit him and Dolores. She is just as important as César was, especially to us in New Mexico, because she’s from New Mexico.”

La Marcha de Justicia will be held before the fiesta. It will wind through the community surrounding the NHCC and end back at the center’s Plaza Mayor. The fiesta will feature poetry, dancing, community exhibits, children’s activities and games, food, and live music by La Tropa Feliz. Actor, musician and composer Danny Valdez also will perform. Valdez joined the United Farm Workers early on and later founded El Teatro Campesino.

“El Teatro Campesino is one of the leading Chicano theater groups in the United States,” Martinez said. “… It’s street theater, and they do skits about the huelga – the strikes – and the fields and, you know, the injustices, so I really love that theater group.”

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