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Museum Exhibit Showcases Chávez ‘In His Own Words’

Jan. 17, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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An exhibit celebrating the life and work of labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez will be on display through Feb. 14 in the Katy and E. Don Walker Sr. Education Center.

black and white photo of Chavez wearing a cowboy hat and a shovel slung over his shoulder
César Chávez at work in the community garden in La Paz, Calif., by Cathy Murphy, 1976. The photograph is one of 38 currently on display in the Walker Education Center for the "In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez" exhibit. —Courtesy of Humanities Texas

"In His Own Words—The Life and Work of César Chávez" features 38 photographs paired with excerpts from Chávez's dynamic speeches, interviews and authoritative writings, documenting the full course of Chávez's remarkable career.

These components come together to present an examination of the life experiences and philosophical influences that drove Chávez to dedicate himself fully to improving the lives of American farm workers, according to Casey Roon, Sam Houston Memorial Museum exhibits curator.

This exhibit highlights the importance of the migrant farm worker in society and raises awareness about the type of leader Chávez was, Roon said.

“The past few centuries have built our nation into the most productive agricultural society in the world, but what most Americans fail to realize is that the people who worked to pick, plant, pack the foods we all enjoy have often worked for very little wages and in terrible conditions,” she said. “Chávez saw this and chose to take a stand in a non-violent way. His leadership sought change in the way farm workers are treated.

“What I like most about César Chávez is that he was one man who made a positive change in the world,” Roon continued. “We all have the power to make a difference.”

Throughout his youth and into young adulthood, Chávez experienced the hardships of being a migrant farm worker and the sting of racial discrimination.

Motivated by a dream of justice and equality, Chávez dedicated himself to community, organizing activities and, later, to founding the first farm workers’ union.

He developed strategies to affect the change he envisioned, inspired by the principles of his parents, the teachings of Catholicism and his mentors and the study of successful civil rights leaders, Roon said.

Utilizing strikes, boycotts, marches and other nonviolent tactics, Chávez worked tirelessly to secure better pay, job safety, improved living conditions and other essential protections for farm workers.

The Walker Education Center is located at 1402 19th St. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

“In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez” is produced by Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and is made possible by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, or to arrange group visits, contact the Sam Houston Memorial Museum at 936.294.1832 or visit the museum on Facebook.



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