“The UW Oshkosh Student Organization of Latinos held a free screening of a film about Cesar Chavez for students and faculty to help teach about his activism for migrant workers.
Advisor to SOL Esmeralda Delgato said one of the reasons the film was put on was because the organization was trying to get Chavez’s birthday passed as a day of service.
“[The day after event] marks his birthday, and I know they were trying to, but I don’t think they got it passed as a day of service,” Delgato said. “They went to a local elementary school to talk about Cesar Chavez and the influence he had on the migrant workers and the labor force. He fought for better rights for the migrant workers and the living conditions.”
Delgato said the film showed Chavez’s journey to help migrant workers achieve better rights and how he got there.
“Cesar Chavez also was known to help bring together the farmworkers,” Delgato said. “And to show the injustices in the struggle between the farmworkers and the growers and then how they came together and create a union, the United Farmworkers Union.”
Delgato also said the film helps inform people about people that are normally stereotyped for this kind of work.
“When people think of migrant workers, they automatically assume that they are all illegal, which they are not,” Delgato said. “A lot of them just migrate where the different crops are, and so it [the film] shows their life and how they are able to support their families.”
Delgato said they wanted students to have a chance to come and learn about other students culture, especially if they were part of the same culture.
“Giving students an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifices made of their history, especially if they are of Mexican-American descent is what we hope to go for,” Delgato said.
President of SOL Benito Cruz said they wanted to show the film about Chavez to show students what activism looked like.
“What we’re trying to show people is what to look for in a movie that shows historical activism,” Cruz said. “Basically he was focused on non-violent activism, so what he did was mostly boycotting.”
UWO student Danielle Smith said the film was very informative and offered a lot to students who weren’t familiar with Cesar Chavez.
“The film on Cesar Chavez was very inspiring and eye opening to those who haven’t experienced or had any knowledge of the events before watching,” Smith said. “To see that some small-town worker could make such a difference in the world was very remarkable. A farmworker could become a civil-rights activist, who helped form a credit union, which then turned into a civil union with the farm workers, was very inspiring.“
Smith said one thing that really stuck out from the film was how many sacrifices Chavez and his family had to make just to keep things afloat.
“[What] struck me that when Chavez and his family had to move. The children also worked, at least those who were old enough, to help support the family,” Smith said. “That you don’t see very often anymore.”
Smith said another thing that was important to her was the commitment of those around Chavez and Chavez himself to the movement.
“Another thing that really caught my attention was the strong dedication of the members of the union; Cesar, his wife, their close friends,” Smith said. “They voluntarily got themselves arrested just to make a statement. Chavez fasted for 25 days to make a statement towards his people about nonviolence being the key to success.”
Smith commended Chavez on his efforts and gave him recognition for doing what most wouldn’t do in that situation.
“Having one person who cares so much about others and is willing to risk his own life to help those in need is very noble and honorable,” Smith said. “I’m not sure I would be able to do the things Chavez did if I was in his position.”