On March 6th, over 2000 high school students from across the State of Oregon visited the Western Oregon University campus for the 25th annual Cesar Chavez Leadership Conference. The CECLC is the largest high school student event for Latino students in the Pacific Northwest. The events invites presenters, exhibitors, school staff, state officials, non-profit organizations amongst others to attend leadership workshops, a college/university fair and listen to a keynote speaker. Over 65 high schools from Northwest Oregon attend the annual conference. This events goal is to educate students about César E. Chávez’s work and his legacy.
Who is Cesar Chavez?
Cesar E. Chavez was a farmworker who became a labor leader and civil rights activist who in the mid ‘60s, with Dolores Huerta, created the National Farm Workers Association. He is often compared to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for practicing non-violent protests and standing up for change.
Dolores Huerta’s Message to Oregon Students
Dolores began her speech by stating that people that work with their hands are the ones that create wealth in the United States, for the people that pick our crops, make our clothes and construct our buildings. “If you had to be on a deserted island, like the series Survivor… and you can only take one person with you. Who would you take, an attorney or a farmworker? The answer’s pretty clear,” she stated.
Non-verbal bullying was a main focus in her speech. “If someone has a disability, we may make fun of them but there’s another part of bullying, when you isolate people. Something you can do at your schools is to make it our point to include those with mental disabilities in everything we do. Sometimes we are taught to discriminate against other people, especially people that are gay, lesbian or transgender, these people are part of our family,” she stated over a loud crowd cheer.
Important Quotes from Huerta’s Speech
“Haters attack people of the gay, lesbian, transgender community, women’s rights, they attack immigrants and they don’t care very much about they environment, those are the haters.”
“All the men in this room can be feminists, all you young men look at all the women as if they were your sister or mother.”
She quoted the famous Mexican song “El Rey” (The King) by Vicente Fernandez. “We don’t have to be first but we must know how to finish,” when speaking about the importance of finishing school no matter at what age.
“Respecting other peoples rights is peace” – Benito Juarez