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Annual César E. Chávez commemoration transitions to virtual events over three days, includes panel featuring higher education leaders

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The Committee to Honor César E. Chávez has planned a 20th Anniversary Gala with virtual opportunities spread over three days this month. 

Events saluting the legacy of the civil rights activist and labor leader will include his son and grandson, and presidents from Aquinas College, Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University.

“César E. Chávez’s work is an inspiration for us all, a call to stand in the gap to help those who do not have the means to do it for themselves,” said Dr. Bill Pink, GRCC president. “Our hope is that the students receiving the scholarships always remember César E. Chávez legacy, and always look for ways they can help others.”

The effort is headed by the Hon. Lupe Ramos-Montigny, a former Grand Rapids Public Schools educator who is a member of the state Board of Education.

“We are so grateful to Lupe Ramos-Montigny and the committee for their incredible dedication to ensuring the legacy of César Chávez remains present in West Michigan,” said Dr. Philomena Mantella, GVSU president. “The legacy of César Chávez reaches to the many GVSU students who have earned scholarships from the committee, allowing them to pursue a college degree and be — as César said so often — of service to others.”

The three events are free and open to the public. Registration is available at this link. 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 20, 3 to 4 p.m. 

Four college and university presidents will discuss the history of how the Committee to Honor César E. Chávez and the education community marched for social justice together over the last 20 years. 

Panelists will share how the committee’s scholarships have changed students’ lives, the efforts to educate West Michigan and the important work still needed to move forward the Chávez legacy. 

Panelists include: Pink, Mantella, Dr. Richard Pappas, Davenport president; and Dr. Kevin Quinn, Aquinas president.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Jesse Bernal, GVSU vice president for inclusion, equity, and presidential initiatives. 

"César E. Chávez’s powerful impact on West Michigan was rooted in his ability to inspire one person at a time to action," said Dr. Quinn, of Aquinas. "Through these scholarships and the opportunities provided through education, our vision is to inspire each and every student to a life of purpose and service that will carry on his legacy."

  • Wednesday, Oct. 21, 6 to 7 p.m.

César E. Chávez’s son Paul Chávez and grandson Andrés Chávez will speak about Chávez’s legacy. Get to know the man behind the movement that has shaped the world and how we activate our communities to fight for social justice and human dignity.

  • Thursday, Oct. 22, 6 to 7 p.m.

The four higher education partners will present scholarships to students during this event. 

"The work by Lupe Ramos-Montigny and the committee to uphold this incredible scholarship in recognition of César Chávez, and in support of such deserving students is to be applauded," said Dr. Pappas, of Davenport. "A scholarship can make an incredible difference in a student's ability to achieve their dreams - and with this support - these students can continue the legacy César Chávez created and make a significant impact in our communities."