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Theater ought to reconsider ‘Chavez’ film

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

I read with great dismay the decision not to show the recent “Cesar Chavez” film at the Sterling Theater. Chavez is an extremely important historical individual. His lifetime fight to empower migrant workers was powerful and inspirational.

As an educator, I find it stunning to read that one of the possible reasons for not showing the film is that it sullies the reputation of former President Ronald Reagan. We cannot hide the facts of history because they collide with our own biased conclusions regarding historical actors.

All students of history recognize that Reagan disagreed with unionism once he became a politician after parting with the Screen Actors Guild Union, where he was president of the union, serving six terms. Chavez‘s fight for the growers often clashed with California politicians who did not agree with his cause or tactics.

Chavez modeled his protest after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., using peaceful, nonviolent protest and the powerful boycott. Chavez fought for higher wages and better working conditions for predominantly Mexican-American migrant workers who were horrendously exploited in the agricultural sector.

Young people should be exposed to this magnificent labor leader. Routinely, when I ask students every semester whether they have ever heard of Mr. Chavez, very few have heard of him. This is unfortunate.

I think the Sterling Theater could show remarkable courage and wisdom in showing a film that would enlighten the area about the great and heroic life of Mr. Cesar Estrada Chavez.

Note to readers: LeNie Adolphson is an adjunct instructor of history and humanities at Sauk Valley Community College.

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