Epic photos of César Chávez, colorful placards displaying messages of ¡Si Se Puede! and Huelga were carried through the streets of southwest Denver last Saturday in remembrance of the late leader. Hundreds joined the 11th Annual César Chávez Day celebration, organized by the César Chávez Peace and Justice Committee (CCPJC), commemorating Chávez’s birthday on March 31st.
The day began with a customary mass hosted by St. Cajetan’s Church in southwest Denver, followed by the traditional march to the Denver Indian Center on Morrison Rd.
In a symbolic move, local danzante group leaders Carlos Casteñeda of Grupo Tlaloc and Raul Chávez of Huiltzliopotchli led their dance troupes in the march and danced together in the procession and later performed unified ceremonial tributes at the celebration’s opening program.
Each year the Committee awards local community members and organizations who embody the ideals of the late United Farm Workers co-founder.
A posthumous award was presented to humanitarian Gilbert Chávez, who passed in November of 2011, and was an inspiration to numerous students throughout his coaching endeavors. Gil’s brother, Eloy Chávez, Executive Director of ACE Community Challenge School, received the award on behalf of his brother and family members. “He was my role model and my idol,” praised Eloy. Gil also worked with youth at ACE, alongside Eloy. “I never told him that I love him…I love you Gil,” he said to his brother.
“I know he’s up there somewhere coaching,” smiled Eloy.
The event’s keynote speaker, Henry Román, President of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association offered inspiring words to challenge others to continue with César Chávez’s vision. “One person can change things and improve lives everywhere,” said Román, noting efforts need to be unified and not individualized.
“The ‘me’ attitudes weaken our social fabric. We have to ask ourselves,
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