The Crusades of Cesar Chavez

Miriam Pawel and Luis Valdez
Moderated by Laura Pulido
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Episode Summary

How do you write/convey/film the story of a visionary figure with tragic flaws who founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation? Biographer Miriam Pawel, playwright/director Luis Valdez (Teatro Campesino) lend their perspective on the crusades of an unlikely American hero who ignited one of the great social movements of our time.

Participant(s) Bio

Miriam Pawel is the author of The Union of Their Dreams, widely acclaimed as the most nuanced history of Cesar Chavez’s movement. She is a Pulitzer-winning editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She was recently awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship and lives in Southern California.

Luis Valdez is a playwright and founding artistic director of El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theater), the internationally renowned theater company founded on the picket lines of the Delano grape strike in 1965 and still in operation in San Juan Bautista, CA, where it is the longest running Chicano Theater in the United States. Valdez’s involvement with Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and the early Chicano Movement left an indelible mark that remained embodied in all his work even after he left the UFW. Valdez’s influential Zoot Suit was the first Chicano play on Broadway. His numerous feature film and television credits include, among others, La Bamba, Cisco Kid, and Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution. Valdez is the recipient of countless awards, including the prestigious George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Governor’s Award OF the California Arts Council, and Mexico’s prestigious Aguila Azteca Award given to individuals whose work promotes cultural excellence and exchange between US and Mexico.

Laura Pulido is a Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She researches race, political activism, Chicana/o Studies, critical human geography, and Los Angeles. Pulido has done extensive work in the field of environmental justice, social movements, labor studies, and radical tourism.