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March 4, 2024

Annual celebration honors the legacy and role of migrant farmworkers

Monday, March 25 in East Lansing, MI

Free event, registration required

Michigan State University is celebrating its 14th annual César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, or CCDH, Commemorative Celebration on Monday, March 25. The celebration honors the legacies of local and national community leaders and organizers and their work to champion change within farmworker and Latinx communities.

Graphic depiction of a field with text Cesar E Chavez & Dolores Huerta Commemorative Celebration

This event grows from the strength of the Latinx and farmworker communities and the allies who stand in solidarity to raise awareness of the contributions, hardships, and ongoing or newly surfaced obstacles encountered by migrant and seasonal farmworkers. 

The theme for 2024 is “Cosechando Nuestros Sueños: Harvesting our Dreams.” Workshops and events for MSU students, faculty, employees and community leaders will take place in the afternoon, followed by a dinner at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

“The celebration is an opportunity for the MSU and greater Lansing community to come together and celebrate and recognize the contributions of migrant farmworkers,” said Amanda Flores, senior director of diversity, equity and inclusion at WKAR and co-chair of the 14th annual CCDH planning committee and a migrant farmworker herself.

Elias Lopez, senior associate director of the College Assistance Migrant Program and CCDH co-chair with Flores said, “Events like this remind us of the individuals who work long hours and days to ensure we have fruits and vegetables on our tables.”

Featured honors and events

Photo image of a field with multi-colored monarch butterflies overhead with the text Las Alas Invisibles: The Unseen Wings

The events align with National Farmworkers Awareness Week, which takes place March 25 through 31, and César Chávez Day on March 31. A celebration highlight is the César Chávez and Dolores Huerta Community Leadership Awards, which honors individuals from MSU who demonstrate cultural commitment to diversity, teamwork, collaboration and leadership on campus.

Another CCDH feature, “Las Alas Invisibles: The Unseen Wings,” is a special exhibit that highlights the experience of the MSU migrant farmworker and farmer community through photos, displays of field items and firsthand accounts of students reflecting on their experiences and successes. The exhibit, created by third-year political science and University Communications research and campaign intern Luz Vazquez, recognizes those who provide our food and challenges the notions of what migrant labor looks like.

The gallery draws a parallel between the south-to-north migration of monarch butterflies, indicating when the crops are ready to harvest and the migration of farmworkers to Michigan begins.

On March 26, MSU Libraries and WKAR Public Media are hosting a community screening of "Fruits of Labor." The film is set in an agricultural town on the central coast of California. The coming-of-age story is about an American teenager traversing the seen and unseen forces that keep her family trapped in poverty. A lyrical meditation on adolescence, nature and ancestral forces, the film asks what it means to come into one's power as a young working woman of color in the wealthiest nation in the world. The in-person event takes place 3 to 4 p.m. at the MSU Libraries Green Room. Registration is required.

Celebration keynote speaker

headshot of Monica Ramirez

The featured speaker for the 2024 celebration is Mónica Ramírez, a long-time advocate, organizer, social entrepreneur, attorney and thought leader fighting to eliminate gender-based violence and secure gender equity. Ramírez is the daughter and granddaughter of migrant farmworkers.

For over two decades, Ramírez has fought for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers and Latinx community members and immigrants, specifically addressing the needs of farmworker women across the United States. She founded and co-founded major initiatives, including the Bandana Project, Justice for Migrant Women and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. Ramírez is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law and Harvard Kennedy School.

Ramírez will conduct an afternoon workshop and give the keynote presentation at the celebration dinner. Workshops begin at 2:30 p.m. and dinner will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. While not required, you can register now for workshops and the celebration dinner. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit the celebration’s webpage.

By: Kate White and Megan Winans

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