KALAMAZOO, Mich.—More than 500 people are expected to participate in the 21st annual Kalamazoo César Chávez March Thursday, April 2, from downtown Kalamazoo to the Western Michigan University campus.
Hundreds of area high school and college students will gather with members of the public at Bronson Park at 9:15 a.m. for an opening ceremony featuring a performance on guitar by Rene Meave, co-founder of the band Los Bandits de Michigan.
The participants will leave Bronson Park at 10 a.m., march up Academy Street to Monroe Street, then follow West Michigan Avenue to WMU, and disperse at Miller Auditorium at about 10:45 a.m. After a short lunch break, they will reassemble in Miller Auditorium from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. for an after-march program.
Miller Auditorium program
The program will include a welcome by the Kalamazoo Central High School Bilingual Students Club, which is now the main organizer of the march, and Dr. John M. Dunn, WMU president.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. George Vargas, who will discuss "The Spirit of César Chávez in American Art." Vargas grew up in Michigan and is an associate professor of art history at Texas A&M University, Kingsville. He is an academically trained artist who paints, writes electronic music and produces videos on Latino artists.
His talk will be preceded by special guest Nora Mendoza, who will speak on "Social Activism Changing Society Through Art." Mendoza is a West Bloomfield artist-activist affiliated with El Museo del Norte, a so-called "museum without walls."
About the march
The march was founded at WMU in 1994 by Mike Ramirez in the Division of Multicultural Affairs and a few WMU students to celebrate the life and achievements of the late César Chávez, a civil rights, education and environmental activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers union.
The event has grown steadily in size and scope over the years, with the KCHS Bilingual Students Club becoming the prime organizer in 2002. Now the largest such march in southwest Michigan, the event not only honors Chávez, but also celebrates the Hispanic community's rich cultural history and serves as way to teach young people about nonviolent social justice and change.
For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.