The Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs and the Latin sorority Lambda Theta Alpha co-hosted an event to celebrate Cesar Chavez's birthday with a cake at the Multicultural Center (MCC) on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Students and staff members came to the MCC to celebrate the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez. Alejandro Magaña, a staff member at the MCC, and Sara Abu-Ghnaim, president of Northwestern's Lambda Theta Alpha chapter, spoke about Chavez's life and the importance of his work. Following their speeches, guests got to eat a birthday cake filled with strawberries.
"Today is a kick-off for the commemorating week in remembering the life and the legacy of Cesar Chavez and the work that he did with farm workers back in the sixties and the legacy that he left behind and the work that still needs to continue today to work towards worker's justice," Magaña said.
Magaña said there is still work to be done done to make sure that farm workers get a living wage, work in working conditions free of pesticides, have access to clean facilities and have clean water to drink.
"It's really incredible in 2015 that they are still facing those conditions," he said.
Cesar Chavez is especially important to the Latino community, according to Abu-Ghnaim.
"He was one of the first to advocate for worker's rights in California and to stand up for people who are being paid very minimum wages," said Abu-Ghnaim. "We like to use him as a figurehead of Latino empowerment, especially on this campus where minorities are such a small population."
The work of Cesar Chavez not only influences the Latino community, but also extends to many people, especially to Northwestern students, according to her.
"Today's event is particularily important in reminding us that as college students we are privileged and in our privilege and power we are able to affect the lives of others," said Sara Abu-Ghnaim.
This event was open to anyone and was publicized through the MCC listserv. Many of the guests came to either commemorate Cesar Chavez or to learn more about him.
"I honestly didn't really know very much about Cesar Chavez," said Nikita Kulkarni, a sophomore in the School of Communication. "I think it's cool I got to eat some cake and learn about him."
Some guests came because they were interested in going to more MCC events.
"I enjoy coming to the events at the MCC because they are so inclusive," said Melissa Calica, a freshman in Weinberg. "Students get so caught up in their own studies that sometimes we forget to celebrate these kinds of events."
The commemorating week will include several more events such as a Latino Men's Gathering at the Black House on Wednesday, a blood drive at Norris hosted by the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity on Thursday and a Cesar Chavez Day of Service in the Harris Hall on Saturday.
Events such as these remind students to take a moment to remember and appreciate the works of people like Cesar Chavez and to also give back to the community, according to Abu-Ghnaim.
"Community service is a big thing for Cesar Chavez, he always partook in helping out his community, especially in farmer's alliance in California. He made sure that farmers workers rights were a bit thing and families are being taken care of." she said. "We would like to commemorate that here so we can remind ourselves to do service and give back."