The MSU Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is hosting the annual César Chávez and Dolores Huerta Commemorative Celebration. The week-long celebration aims to celebrate the lives and legacies of the two Chicano civil rights leaders, and to shed light on the struggles that migrant farm workers are facing today.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Tu lucha es mi lucha,” which translates to, “Your fight is my fight.” According to Senior Associate Director at Migrant Student Services, Elias Lopez, who is serving on the event’s planning committee, this theme alludes to the necessity of finding solidarity with migrant farm workers, especially since their struggles are constantly overlooked. Especially during the pandemic, Lopez added, migrant farm workers played a crucial role in sustaining the U.S. economy and food supply.
“(Migrant farm workers) tend to be in the invisible population of the U.S, so I think that oftentimes, when we think about farmworkers, one, we don't know that they exist, and two, we think about it as something that's in the past,” Lopez said. “So we wanted to shed light on this concept that farmworkers are still here, and they're working every single day to feed America.”
So April 4-8, there will be an event each day to bring visibility to farm workers.
On Monday, April 4, there will be a kickoff roundtable conversation called “Tu Lucha es MI Lucha: Making Space at the Table.” This event will act as a forum through which the public can converse with the panelists to learn about and discuss the abuses farm workers are subjected to in their work. The panelists include current farmworkers, people from the United Farm Worker foundation, student scholars from the College Assistance Migrant Scholars Program and faculty. The roundtable is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. over Zoom, and the Zoom link can be accessed here: https://inclusion.msu.edu/awards/chavez-huerta-celebration/index.html
On Tuesday, April 5, the MSU library is having a pop-up exhibit of historical artwork relating to migrant workers. The special collection includes flyers, press releases from foreign worker movements, and other art, and it is in-person from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the library’s Special Collections Seminar Room. The collection can also be accessed online from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, April 6, there will be a poetry workshop with Craft Cultura at 6 p.m. in Holden Hall. Craft Cultura is a grassroots organization from South Texas that focuses on empowerment through art, education and culture. At this event, Craft Cultura members will present poetry relating to issues at the Texas/Mexico border, and students will be able to discuss those issues and create their own poetry.
On Thursday, April 7, WKAR will screen “Huelga!”, a documentary about the farmworker strikes in 1960’s California. After the film, there will be a panel with student farmworkers, a student in the United Farmworkers Foundation and Dr. Ingrid Aguayo-Fuentealba, who is the High School Equivalency Program Associate Director at MSU.
On Friday, April 8, there will be a march in solidarity with farmworkers. The march will start at The Rock and end at Demonstration Hall, where the week’s final event is taking place at 4 p.m. This final event is an early dinner with another presentation from Craft Cultura. Lopez said that this event will be lively, but it will still discuss serious topics pertaining to migrant farm workers.
All of the week’s events are open to the public, and according to Lopez, if more people learn about issues faced by farm workers, we can help create better advocacy for them and for MSU students affected by those issues.
“The fact that we have students on this campus that come from farmworker families really gives us a learning opportunity here to not only expose the MSU community to the issues that farmworkers are facing today, but to also give a space for our farm worker students to be able to speak about their life journeys to Michigan State, and (to speak about) the needs that exist so that we can support them as an institution,” Lopez said.
For more information and registration links for next week’s events click here: https://inclusion.msu.edu/awards/chavez-huerta-celebration/index.html .
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