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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

State leaders, law professors speak on César Chávez’s legacy

La Raza Law Students Association sponsored events throughout the week in honor of César Chávez. Monday through Friday, events were held on campus under the theme “Progress and Prosperity for our Community.”

Monday’s breakfast kicked off the week’s festivities while Tuesday, Cara Jobson – a partner of Wiley & Jobson San Francisco immigration law firm – led a discussion on people persecuted on account of sexual orientation and identity.

Wednesday’s events caused people to ask questions.

“People asked ‘How can we build on his legacy?'” said Kathleen Rojas, La Raza’s co-chair for the event.

Marc Grossman, longtime personal aid to César Chávez, answered those questions by speaking about remaining faithful to serving the community and maintaining meaning for action-driven services. Also brought up at the event was the parallel that Chávez was the Martin Luther King Jr. of the Latino community.

“I think it’s very important, especially to law students, that they are introduced to the responsibility of having to represent all walks of life. We hope that with a week like this they will be able to grasp a little bit more about our community and other underrepresented groups,” Rojas said.

On thursday, the Law School Admissions Council welcomed high school students from César Chávez High School for a Shadow Day in order to introduce them to the possibility of attending law school.

“I think our most important event of the week is with the high school students,” Rojas said. She talked about how La Raza law students spoke about their upbringing in a panel discussion and mentioned that some of them were the first generation in their families to attend law school.

Phil Angelides, elected California’s State Treasurer in 1998 and an active political figure, spoke Thursday on being civically active and participating at the local, state and federal level. Emeritus professor of law Cruz Reynoso also spoke on his views of the law.

“The focus of my talk [has] to do with the importance of legal services to this country in terms of the administration of justice, and what has gone right and wrong in terms of legal services in our country,” he said.

Reynoso was a keynote speaker that evening after the presentation of a short film titled “The War Against Poverty,” honoring former American Democratic politician Sargent Shriver.

“[There was a] focus on what we can do to bring back the spirit of public service that we found early on the life Sargent Shriver,” Reynoso said.

“It was good for the law school community to hear about Chávez, how he sacrificed and how decent a person he was.… His success was not pre-ordained but only came about through commitment and patience,” said Kevin Johnson, associate dean of the UC Davis School of Law.

Johnson spoke about the importance of having such events on the Davis campus.

“UC Davis is located in the great Central Valley of California. This is where Chávez and the UFW [United Farm Workers Union] sought to organize. The law students at the School of Law do us a great service in organizing this Chávez week of events to remind us of our history,” Johnson said.

The week’s events conclude with Tuesday’s Naturalization Workshop to help organize permanent residents become U.S. citizens at Woodland High School.


ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.


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