“A Moment with Cesar Chavez” brings Chicano movement onstage


Cesar Villa

“A Moment With Cesar Chavez” is a performance written, adapted and performed by Roberto Alcaraz, actor and lecturer at Cal State Long Beach. It was based on Chaves and the Chicano movement.

Cesar Villa

A dimly lit stage with a makeshift tent, a couple props and one man is all it took to provide a deep insight into the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez.

“A Moment With Cesar Chavez” is a performance written, adapted and performed by Roberto Alcaraz, actor and lecturer at Cal State Long Beach.

Alcaraz explained that he was inspired by Chavez and mentors that were products of the Chicano Movement.

He believes that Chavez’ legacy is an important story to keep telling because he wasn’t a celebrity, he didn’t have a large fan base, he was just a man who wanted to make the “invisible, visible”.

Alacaraz states, “A young lady asked here today, ‘Where are all these national movements today?,’ and to take away this idea that Cesar didn’t necessarily set out to start a national movement.

“The opportunities arose for national attention […], but really it started with local people living local lives that wanted to better the conditions for farm workers.”

Although it was a one-man-play Alcaraz brings Chavez’ character to life along with other characters such as: Chavez’s parents, fellow activists, a teacher and even a younger version of Chavez.

Zion Flores, public relations major, said she found out about the play in her leadership class and wanted to educate herself more about Chavez’ activism and contribution to American history.

Flores aspires to be an activist and learned from the performance of how Chavez started a movement.

“I learned the importance of relationships, Chavez didn’t do it alone, and the importance of believing in the movement and the activism.

“Even though you may have small numbers it can grow over time — you got to stick with the movement in its ups and downs, it’s important to know that your message is getting out,” Flores said.

Randy David Rodriguez, undecided major, found out about the performance through the Puente program.

Rodriguez stated that when he applied to Cerritos College he was a bit lost and needed help to get his footing.

He was referred to the Puente program that helps with college transferring and guides you with your future.

He was surprised to find out that the play only had one cast member.

“Usually when I see plays it’s with more people, but a one guy play, that was pretty cool,” he said.

Both Flores and Rodriguez’ favorite scene was when the young Chavez was disciplined at school for speaking Spanish.

It not only showed the negative portrayal of a school teacher denying Chavez’ Mexican identity, but also Alcaraz’ ability to bring that moment to life.

“Being a minority, I can relate to being looked down upon, or a second class citizen,” Rodriguez said.

Puente student, Adriana Esparza majoring in English and minoring in music went to the performance through the program.

She was able to relate to the performance when it talked about how hard it is to afford a proper education when you don’t have the financial means to do it.

“I remember I would consistently ask myself, ‘Why is it so much harder for me to do things, and my friends are able to do it much more simpler?’ you know because their parents are more educated,” she said.

Many first generation minorities suffer financially due to language barriers and are not able to afford an education.

Sometimes providing food and shelter is all a parent can afford and is up to their child to work twice as hard to provide their own education.

Esparza believes that we must understand what our community has went through and to push Latino empowerment and to continue staying educated.