UC Berkeley press release


UC Berkeley student resource center to be renamed in honor of Cesar Chavez on April 3

by Fernando Quintero

Berkeley -- In memory of the late Latino labor leader, the dedication of the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center, now known as the Golden Bear Center, will be held at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3 on the UC Berkeley campus.

The renaming of the student learning and resource center will follow the world premiere of "The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle," a two-hour documentary that will be shown at 6 p.m. in the campus's Wheeler Auditorium and is scheduled to air on PBS April 16.

The heart of the United Farmworkers Union, Chavez is remembered as the nation's most important Latino leader. The activities he and his dedicated organizers led inspired the Chicano activism of the 1960s and '70s, and helped create a Latino civil rights movement.

Their struggle united agricultural workers, who were largely immigrant laborers, with American consumers in a non-violent fight for social justice.

"The university is proud to have a lasting memorial to Cesar Chavez, an individual who serves as a powerful symbol for human dignity and equality as well as an inspiration to students, faculty and staff," said Genaro Padilla, vice chancellor for undergraduate affairs.

The student-driven effort to rename the student center began in 1995 when two student government senators introduced legislation to change the Golden Bear Center to the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center.

The action was met with widespread support both on and off campus, including letters of encouragement from UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

Abel Guillen-Jiron, a sociology student who co-sponsored the change, said the proposal to rename the student center received strong support from students.

"Many students agreed the renaming of the student center would serve as a strong symbolic gesture of the university's commitment to diversity," said Guillen-Jiron. "Cesar Chavez was not just a role model for Latinos, but for anyone who believes in the idea of social justice."

The dedication of the Cesar E. Chavez Student Center will include a keynote address by Dolores Huerta, UFW vice president, and comments from Chancellor Tien.

"The Fight in the Fields" is produced by Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles, both veteran Bay Area documentary producers, and is a presentation of Independent Television Service. Major funding for the film was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The documentary premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival in January, and will be broadcast locally on PBS on April 16 at 8 p.m. and April 20 at 6 p.m..

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