Cesar Chavez Commemoration Week, hosted by the La Raza Law Students Association at UC Davis School of Law, continues today through Saturday. Events are free and open to the public, with lunch provided daily by El Mariachi.
Kathleen Rojas, the week’s co-chairperson, said she is excited about the outreach involved with the week.
It’s important to make sure we’re reaching the community and furthering our goal of diversifying the legal profession, she said.
Today from noon to 1 p.m., there will be a presentation by Cesar Chavez’s longtime personal aide, Marc Grossman, in Wilkins Moor Courtroom in King Hall. Grossman became a boycott organizer for the United Farm Workers while attending UC Irvine, before going on to become a legal investigator for the United Farm Workers’ general counsel. He served as press secretary and administrative assistant to Chavez during his presidency of the UFW, from 1975-1981.
He’s the boycott organizer for the [United Farm Workers], so he’ll be here to talk about the farm worker situation and issues coming up today, said Rojas, who believes Grossman’s more than 30 years of perspective will be insightful.
Sam Barrera, a junior community and regional development major, said she definitely plans to attend an event, citing her family ties.
My grandpa actually worked with Cesar Chavez, so I’m really excited, and I hope I can get out to one of the events, she said.
Thursday morning from 8 a.m. to noon in the student lounge in King Hall will be From Homeroom to the Courtroom, as more than 30 students from Cesar Chavez High School will participate in Shadow Day. The event is sponsored in part by the school of law admission council as part of National Minority Law School Recruitment month.
The high schoolers will get a feel for law school through a Q&A with law students, attending a law school class, and witnessing a mini-mock trial.
For many of these students, it will be the first time they’ve set foot in a law school and met law students, so it should be a real introduction for them. They’ll also hopefully figure out if they want to pursue a legal education, how they’d go about doing that, said Rojas.
She added that Homeroom to the Courtroom is probably the most important event, because we’re reaching a community of students who normally wouldn’t have access to the legal field at all, or would have a very small window of opportunity.
The afternoon will begin in Wilkins Moot Courtroom, as the La Raza Law Students Association and King Hall Democrats co-host a discussion led by Phil Angelides from noon to 1 p.m. Angelides will emphasize the importance of remaining civically active – participating at the local, state and federal policy decision-making levels. Angelides has a long political resume that includes serving as the Chair of the California Democratic Party, the California co-chair for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign, and was California’s State Treasurer from 1999-2007.
The day concludes with a cultural celebration in the student lounge of King Hall, beginning at 5 p.m. The evening consists of music, courtesy of DJ Chris Ditico ’08, dinner, and an inspiring 20 minute film presentation on The War Against Poverty, honoring former American Democratic politician Sargent Shriver. The night is then capped off with a discussion titled The Justice We Could Have, by Professor of Law Emeritus Cruz Reynoso, and then punctuated with the breaking of a piñata.
Rojas suggested that if someone could only make one event, it should be the Thursday evening celebration.
It’s a formal discussion and a celebration in one, and it should be especially interesting to hear former California Supreme Court Justice Reynoso speak, she said.
The final event of Cesar Chavez Week takes place 9 a.m. Saturday morning at Woodland High School, as students are invited to help legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens by volunteering at the Naturalization Workshop.
Kevin Johnson, Associate Dean of the UC Davis School of Law, said this is the best event of the week for the law students, as they’re able to use the law they’ve learned in classes to positively effect people’s lives.
There are lots of people at workshops who want to complete the final stage of becoming a citizen but need help, and law students are able to provide real assistance to real people with real needs, and feel good about the positive impact they can make as a potential future lawyer, he said.
He also said this makes a difference to every single individual.
A U.S. citizen has rights that permanent residents don’t – to vote, be on a jury, and not be deported. Also if they’re a citizen, there is less of an inquiry into their immigration status and whether they’re here lawfully. Whether that’s supposed to happen or not, it usually does, and being a citizen makes it easier to get a job, Johnson said.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at email@example.com.XXX