Labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez in 1974. Courtesy/wikipedia
ALBUQUERQUE ― The National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC) is again the location for the 24th annual César Chávez Day Fiesta April 1, featuring musical and dance acts as well as poetry, community exhibits, children’s activities and games, food, and a keynote speech by Dolores Huerta.
This is a free family event that will take place at noon on the NHCC’s Plaza Mayor.
One of the headlining acts at the fiesta will be Kiko Villamizar, who was born in Miami and raised in Colombia. Villamizar learned Latin American folk music through the oral tradition of his family, and then found himself back in Miami to study jazz after high school. After years of collecting melodies and beats across the Americas, he formed his own unique mix–a fusion of Afro-Colombian and reggae with other Latin world beats thrown in.
The fiesta will also feature Albuquerque band Calle 66, which plays international salsa music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Colombia as well as Argentina and Peru. Calle 66 band members include trumpeter, percussionist and singer Paul Gonzales; founder and lead singer Jackie Zamora; keyboardist and music director Steve Figueroa; saxophonist Glenn Kostur; conga player Francisco Arroyo; bassist Colin Deuble; and drummer Tomás White.
Other entertainment will include Lone Piñon, Ollin Xochipilli, Mariachi San Jose, the Filipino Cultural Group, Ballet Folklórico Dolores Gonzales, and Dr. Finnie Coleman, Reggae & Blues.
In addition, this event features the presentation of the 2017 César Chávez and Dolores Huerta ¡Sí Se Puede! awards to people who have served the community in the spirit of the United Farm Workers leaders. The keynote speaker will be Dolores Huerta, a native of Dawson, New Mexico, who was co-founder, with César Chávez, of the United Farm Workers Union.
In 2012, Huerta was recognized for her decades of ceaseless civil rights and labor organizing when Barack Obama granted her the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Huerta’s appearance at this event coincides with Bernalillo County’s renaming of Gateway Park in the South Valley as Dolores Huerta Gateway Park, and follows on the heels of the world premiere of the movie Dolores, a documentary on Huerta’s life, at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Prior to the fiesta, the 24th annual César Chávez Day celebration will begin with a march–La Marcha de Justicia–beginning at 10:30 a.m., at the Dolores Huerta Gateway Park, picking up additional participants at the National Hispanic Cultural Center at 11 a.m., and ending at noon on the NHCC’s Plaza Mayor.
Before the march begins, there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a keynote address by Dolores Huerta at the park, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Parking is limited at the park, so shuttles will pick up participants at the NHCC’s Education Building from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Additional shuttles will be available following the ribbon cutting to bring people who cannot participate in the march back to the NHCC for the fiesta.