The Kennedy Center

¡Viva Cesar, Viva Kennedy!

¡Viva Cesar, Viva Kennedy! featuring Eugenia León and La Santa Cecilia

Thursday, October 13, 2016 8:00 PM

Hispanic Heritage Month JFK Centennial Celebration

The intersection of the work and ideals of Cesar Chavez and John F. Kennedy in the fight for civil rights and social justice are explored in this evening of diverse performances, provocative conversations, and powerful history.

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Explore the intersection of the work and ideals of Chavez and John F. Kennedy in the fight for civil rights and social justice in this evening of diverse performances, provocative conversations, and powerful history.

Hosted by entertainment professional and activist Dan Guerrero, the evening begins with a program of spoken word, scenes featuring El Teatro Campesino actors, visual projections of historic photographs, and panel discussions.

Then, following a brief intermission, iconic Mexican singer Eugenia León and Mexican American band La Santa Cecilia take the stage to explore the evening's themes through music.

The evening's guests and panelists include illustrator, painter, and sculptor Andy Zermeño; artist and muralist Barbara Carrasco; community organizer and social justice activist Dolores Huerta; international health care luminary and daughter of the United States' first Hispanic ambassador Dr. Cynthia Telles; El Teatro Campesino founder and artistic director Luis Valdez; and Paul F. Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez and President of the Cesar Chavez Foundation.

Moderator and Panelists

Dan Guerrero is a television and live event producer who has directed and staged multiple concert events at the Kennedy Center. He is also an activist/educator and was recently appointed a 2015 UC Regents' Lecturer jointly in the UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies and the LGBT Departments. He is the son of National Medal of Arts recipient Lalo Guerrero who is widely recognized as the Father of Chicano Music. The elder Guerrero knew Chavez before the founding of the UFW, and in the early '60s wrote and recorded El Corrido de Delano, bringing the UFW to a national audience for the first time. Thirty years later, Dan worked with Chavez to produce special events for the UFW including an historic evening at the Directors Guild of America to introduce Cesar and his message to the Hollywood community. Lalo Guerrero was the special musical guest.
Dolores Huerta co-founded the Farm Workers Association with Chavez in 1962. It became the National Farm Workers Association in 1965 with Chavez as President and Huerta as Vice-President. An iconic figure in Mexican-American history, Huerta continued to work with the union after the sudden death of Chavez in 1993 and has remained a close advisor to Arturo Rodriguez who became President after Cesar's passing. Huerta was a key player in the Voters Register Drive for Latinos during the John F. Kennedy election campaign. The energetic and still vital 85-year-old Huerta continues her fight for civil rights and social justice through the Dolores Huerta Foundation established in 2002 with the $100,000 prize monies from the Puffin/Nation Creative Citizenship Award.

Cynthia Telles, Phd has enjoyed a long and distinguished career and is currently serving on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars appointed by Obama in 2010. Telles has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry since 1986 and has served on corporate boards, as well as governmental commissions and boards of civic/philanthropic organizations. She is the daughter of Raymond Telles who was the first Latino to serve as mayor of a major U.S. city when elected in El Paso in 1957. He later served as Ambassador to Costa Rica, fulfilling a campaign promise made by John F. Kennedy to Hispanic voters and making Telles the nation's first Hispanic Ambassador.

Barbara Carrasco, the renowned visual artist, heard Cesar Chavez speak at UCLA when she was nineteen years-old and immediately volunteered her talents to Cesar and the movement. Over the next fifteen years, Carrasco worked closely with Chavez to create monumental banners and posters for the UFW. Carrasco is considered a "renegade Feminist" whose work critiques dominant cultural stereotypes involving socioeconomics, race and gender and her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She continues her activism as a founding member of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. 

Andy Zermeño is the graphic artist that created art/graphics for the UFW movement from 1962–1970 including the iconic eagle symbol. His artwork and cartoons were on posters, calendars, flyers and often on the cover of the UFW newspaper El Malcriado. Zermeño was handpicked by Chavez to create Don Sotaco, the wily, resourceful, self-deprecating and sometimes bumbling farm worker character to represent the views of the striking farm workers. Forty years later, in 2010, the artist self published a book of 282 ink drawings and short stories illustrating the early history of the farm worker movement.

Luis Valdez is a playwright/director considered a pioneer in the Chicano movement. He founded El Teatro Campesino (the Farm Workers Theater) in 1965 to serve as the cultural wing of the UFW in California's central valley. With a pointed political mission, ETC performed actos (short skits) on flatbed trucks in the fields, often in improvisational style, to get the UFW message and mission across to many that could neither read nor write. In a few years, ETC gained national and international reputation. Valdez is today considered the Father of Modern Chicano Theatre best known for his play Zoot Suit and his film La Bamba.

Performance Timing: Part One - 60 min.; Intermission - 20 min.; Part Two - 30 min.