March 19, 2004

César Chávez Calendar of Events:

Actor & Activist, Ed Begley Jr., Announced as Master of Ceremonies for Annual Chávez Breakfast

The César E Chávez Commemorative committee announces that Ed Begley Jr. will be the Master of Ceremonies for the upcoming annual César E. Chávez breakfast to be held April 9th at the San Diego Convention Center. The breakfast will be the climax of a month full of activities in honor of the great civil rights activist César E. Chávez (1927-1993) as there will also be a parade April 3rd, essay and media contests.

The culmination of all the activities is the breakfast which will once again sell out as thousands of community leaders and activist will join to hear keynote speaker Arturo Rodriguez (President of the United Farm Workers) and Ed Begley Jr.

  Ed Begley Jr. actor, environmentalist and activist, son of academy award winning actor Ed Begley, not only knew César E. Chávez, he was a friend of his and recently completed the running of “César and Ruben”, a play he wrote and performed in honor of César E. Chávez and LA Times journalist Ruben Salazar.

  Ed Begley Jr. a well know actor has many television, movie and theatre credits including television roles in “St. Elsewhere” (six Emmy nominations), “Six Feet Under,” “7th Heaven,” “The West Wing,” “The Practice,” “Touched by an Angel;” among his movie credits are “Best in show,” “The Accidental Tourist,” “Batman Forever” while his theatre work includes “Cryptogram” and “César and Ruben” among others.

“I never knew Mahatma Ghandi. I never worked with Dr. Martin Luther King or walked with Mother Teresa,” Begley said. “But I did know César Chávez. He wanted to help people. The people that needed the most help, the people that put food on our tables. He lived like these people. He suffered many years for the farm workers.” 

   Begley, who grew up in Van Nuys as the son of Hollywood actor Ed Begley, followed Chávez’s work as a teenager. He supported the boycotts of grapes and lettuce. Then in 1985 Begley ran into Chávez by accident.

“I was at a coffee shop on Sepulveda having a bowl of oatmeal and a guy pulled up in a car with another,” Begley recalls. “I thought that guy looks a lot like César Chávez, but I knew it couldn’t be him. It was a tiny little car. There was only one guy, no entourage. There was no security team that any labor leader of the time would have had. This was a guy like Jimmy Hoffa, a big labor leader. But when he walked by, there was no mistake. It was César Chávez. I walked up to him and asked him if the grape boycott was still on. He said, “Yes, because of the pesticides’. I offered to help and he said, ‘Give me your number.’”

In 1987, Begley began working with the United Farm Workers on the use of chemical pesticides. He donated money and helped organize the Hollywood political community behind the cause. In 1990, Begley met Chávez for the final time at an environmental film festival in Colorado.

“He invited me to take a walk with him,” Begley says. “We went to a church. He lit a candle. And we talked about the sanctity of live and the creation. He talked about how environmentalists must not only have respect for nature, but also for the workforce that puts food on the table and how they should be protected from hazardous chemicals. The next time I saw him I was carrying his casket down the streets of Delano.”

Feminist Writer Josefina Lopez Featured At SDSU’s Cesar Chavez Day Luncheon

Feminist writer Josefina Lopez, a noted Chicana writer who penned “Real Women Have Curves” and more than 40 other theatrical and television productions, will be the featured speaker at San Diego State University’s annual Cesar Chavez Day luncheon, Wednesday, March 24, 2004, one of more than 80 university-related events happening during March as part of the SDSU Month celebration.

Lopez’s work has won awards at the Sundance Film Festival. She recently completed production of the documentary “The Women of Juarez.” Lopez is also a community activist who upholds the principles of Cesar Chavez. She has been recognized by the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, and was honored with the prestigious Latino Heritage Award. Her cinema school in Los Angeles offers crucial affirmation to those seeking to depict positive images of Latinos and to learn skills in theatre, cinema and the arts.

The luncheon will also feature scholarship presentations to a number of students. It is sponsored by SDSU’s Office of Equity and Diversity, the President’s Office, Students Affairs and the Chicano/Chicana Studies Department. Ticket and other information is available by calling (619) 594-6464.

For more information on SDSU Month, visit www.sdsumonth.com.

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