11th Cesar Chavez Convocation features activist, educator Cesar Cruz

Cesar Cruz
Cesar Cruz is an educator, community organizer, and Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University.

The 11th annual Cesar Chavez Convocation will feature Cesar A. Cruz, a writer, educator, and community organizer who will speak on the need for immigration reform and the ways in which the United States is changing how we define who we are as Americans.

The convocation will take place Tuesday, May 20 from 7-9 p.m. at the Colleges Nine and Ten Multipurpose Room. It is free and open to the public.

The Convocation honors the memory of Cesar Chavez, his achievements, commitment to social justice and civil rights, his unrelenting efforts to cultivate grassroots leadership, and his successful formation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW).   

The issue of undocumented immigrants is highly charged. Children who come to the U.S. at a young age and have lived in the country for most of their lives want to be recognized as Americans but do not possess the documentation of citizenship.

Cruz's life experience is a common story for thousands of students nationally and the more than 12 million immigrants in this country who are undocumented.  

Born in Juchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, he migrated to the U.S. at a young boy with his single mother and grandmother. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles and later moved to the Bay Area to study where he graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in history. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University in educational policy.

For the last 20 years, Cruz has been an educator who has sought to create alternative places for education. He co-founded the independent school “Making Changes” out of his home. For the last five years, he has overseen the Homies Empowerment Program, that serves youth in Oakland who are affected by or involved with gangs.

He is the author of two books, Revenge of The Illegal Alien, and Bang for Freedom.

Convocation organizers said Cruz was selected as this year's keynote speaker for his courageous efforts to step out of the shadows and lend a voice to the disenfranchised.

Past keynote speakers for the Cesar Chavez Convocation have been UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta (2004 and 2013); playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker and director, Luis Valdez (2005); United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriquez (2006); executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Maria Elena Durazo (2007); performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña (2008), Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center (2009);  María Hinojosa, journalist, managing editor of Latino USA (2010); Father Gregory Boyle, executive director of Homeboy Industries (2011); Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas (2012).

The Cesar Chavez Convocation is presented by the College Ten Co-Curricular Programs and El Centro/Chicano Latino Resource Center, and co-sponsored by: Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Community and Resource Empowerment-(e2), Porter College Senate, Kresge College Senate, Crown College Senate, Merrill College Senate, Cowell College Senate, Stevenson College Senate, College Eight Senate, Oakes College Senate, Students Informing Now (SIN), Hermanos Unidos de UCSC, Women's Center, Lionel Cantu Queer Resource Center, American Indian Resource Center, Asian American Resource Center, African American Resource and Cultural Center
More information is available from José Reyes-Olivas, olivas@ucsc.edu, 831-459-5854 or 831-706-5859.