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Why Milwaukee is celebrating the life and legacy of César Chávez

In honor of Cesar E. Chavez’s birthday and civil rights legacy, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts hosted a celebration full of music, readings and dance performances by Milwaukee’s Latino youth.

Watch the video above to take part in the Cesar Chavez Birthday Celebration and hear from a young Latina who is inspired by what he did to help people of color across America.

Chavez’s actual birthday is March 31, so this was more of a pre-birthday celebration. A man by the name of Salvador Sanchez reflected on a march he took with Chavez from Milwaukee to Madison while other local community organizations were behind the artistic programming for the afternoon.

The Dance Academy of Mexico performed traditional dances and the Latino Arts Strings Program opened the program and performed throughout.

A number of students around Milwaukee participated in essay, spoken word and art contests with Chavez’s legacy as the theme. The winners were honored by having their artwork on display during the post-celebration reception. The winners of the speech and spoken word contests recited their pieces during the program.

Greta Garcia Jalil Melendez is a high school senior and Member At-Large of the Milwaukee Youth Council. Her involvement in activism comes in many forms, including representing her community through action and art.

The recent inauguration of the Milwaukee Youth Council became an inspiration for the piece she presented during the celebration. Melendez’s piece is a representation of Milwaukee’s diverse immigrant community.

“For me it was just really inspiring to see all this youth from all over Milwaukee with their right hand up taking the oath,” said Melendez. “That’s why in the piece you’ll see this diverse group of people taking an oath.”

The art pieces honoring Chavez and his movement will be a part of an art exhibit called The Big Idea 7, which opens at Latino Arts Inc. on Thursday June 27 at 5 p.m.