PITTSBURG -- Residents of Pittsburg and beyond will again have an opportunity to pay tribute to the legacy of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement on Saturday, honoring the backbone of the struggle and celebrating the man himself and the changes his work brought about.
The day promises to be filled with equal measures homage and celebration, beginning at 10 a.m. with a rally at Pittsburg City Hall, where Mayor Sal Evola and members of the City Council will say a few words and gather participants for the march to the California Theatre for speeches and entertainment.
On stage, emcee Paul Ramirez will introduce keynote speaker Mary Rocha, vice mayor of Antioch, after which various dance and musical groups will perform.
Participants in the Cesar Chavez Multicultural Celebration include Latino Unidos Folklorico, Back Student Union Steppers, Aztec Dancers, Fil-Am (Filipino) Bamboo-Stick Dance, Club Guillen Acrobatic Dance, Spoken Word, Punjabi Dance Group, Miguel Ortega, Progresivo Unidos, PHDs, mariachis and others.
Post-theater, the celebration moves to Downtown Plaza, where entertainment will continue, nonprofit organizations will set up informational tables, and local restaurants will sell food and beverages -- a real fiesta.
"This is a family event where people can get to know about organizations and community events and activities that go on throughout the year," said Daniel Lopez, a celebration committee member. "We want people to get involved in community participation."
At the heart of the celebration stands Cesar Chavez and his promise of how being involved can bring about change. Celebration committee members specifically hope to reach youth, to increase both their knowledge of the man and their own participation within the community.
"This whole celebration started with the idea of education, about how we can educate our youth about the fact that they have to get involved to be able to change their future," Lopez said.
"We thought that Cesar Chavez was one of those people that was young, and that was what he was trying to do, to educate other folks about their ability to change their future."
From this theme came the celebration tagline "Marching from the past to secure our future," one that has been repeated all three years the event has taken place.
Latin groups, including Latinos Unidos, have been formed at Pittsburg High School, and have started organizing events within the school to educate students.
Lopez got momentum started when he brought Anthony Chavez, the grandson of Cesar Chavez, to Pittsburg High School in March 2012 to speak with students.
This year, Delores Huerta, civil rights activist and co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the National Farmworkers Association, will speak to students, supporting another important celebration theme, that of women of the labor movement.
"Pittsburg is very much a cultural town, and we want to keep it that way and keep it more multicultural," Lopez said. "You know, Cesar Chavez really didn't just touch the lives of Latinos but everybody, all across the board."
Lopez remembers a few years ago asking young people who Cesar Chavez was and being met with blank faces. Hopefully, that's no longer true for a man whose biggest legacy was that of possibility.
"He taught us that if people get involved, they can change what happens," Lopez said.
"And not just for a small group of people, but they can change life for everyone."