César Chávez Day observances in Compton, Long Beach

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Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta looks at a mural of the late Cesar Chavez on the San Jose State University campus in San Jose, Calif. on Sept. 4, 2008.

César Chávez Day events are planned Thursday at the El Camino College Compton Center and at a Long Beach park bearing his name.

The El Camino College Compton Center marked César Chávez Day on Thursday with a 45-minute performance “César Chávez Speaks,” which features excerpts of Chávez's speeches interlaced with a fictional interpretation of the Latino civil rights movement and the state of civil and workers' rights today, written, adapted and performed by Roberto Alcaraz, an actor, singer and professor.

The observance honoring the co-founder of the United Farm Workers on the 84th anniversary of his birth also included a produce exhibit with samples, poetry readings, music and a selection of Mexican cuisine for purchase.

In Long Beach, its 10th annual César Chávez Day Celebration at Chávez Park will begin at 3 p.m. with the dedication of the Jenny Oropeza Community Center, named for the state senator who died in October.

“We are looking forward to honoring the great work of Senator Oropeza and everything she did to built this park when she was on the Long Beach City Council,” said Councilman Robert Garcia.

The festivities will run through 7 p.m. and will include music, performances, food, information tables and activities for children and families. Admission is free.

Born March 31, 1927, in Yuma, Ariz., Chávez dropped out of school after the eighth grade to help support his family by joining them in the fields as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the many adversities migrant workers faced daily.

Chávez joined the Latino civil rights Community Service Organization in 1952, urging Latinos to register to vote. In 1962, he joined Dolores Huerta in co-founding the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers.

An advocate of nonviolence, Chávez is credited with improving work and quality-of-life conditions for immigrant farm workers in central California. He is perhaps best remembered for spearheading a grape boycott in 196 that went nationwide in 1968 and lasted until 1978, resulting in higher wages for farm workers and focusing national attention on their plight.

Chávez died in 1993 at age 66.

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