posted March 14, 2013

Chávez Lecture Series to Focus on “A Vision for a Just Society”

The annual César Chávez Lecture Series at Hope College will feature the address “A Vision for a Just Society” by Ottawa County’s assistant prosecuting attorney, Juanita Bocanegra, on Wednesday, March 27, at 4 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The César Chávez celebration at Hope is named in honor of César E. Chávez, a first-generation American, born on March 31, 1927, just outside of Yuma, Ariz. Having experienced the hardships of life as a farm worker first-hand, Chavez worked tirelessly to improve the lives of farm workers and Latino families. He became the founder and president of the United Farm Workers of America.  His legacy has impacted the lives of millions of people all around the world.  He was passionately driven by the mantras “we cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community’; “Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own”; and “Sí, se puede” (Spanish for “Yes, it is possible”…  “Yes, it can be done”). His work led to nationwide support and numerous improvements for union laborers.

Like Chávez, Bocanegra grew up in a migrant family and understands the struggles that many people face. She has said, “It is one thing to speak the language, but it’s another thing to understand a background and in order to be empathetic to others you have to understand how they see the world.”

After graduating from West Ottawa High School, Bocanegra went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and her law degree from Cooley Law School. In her lecture, she will not only help the audience remember the legacy of Chavez but will also encourage young students to continue pursuing their educational goals and career dreams.

“Given her commitment to excellence, justice and inclusion, we cannot think of a more fitting example of Chavez than Juanita Bocanegra,” said Alfredo Gonzales, who is associate provost and dean for international and multicultural education at Hope.  “We invite you to join us in honoring this great legacy.”

The lecture series is organized by the college’s Dean for International and Multicultural Education, Office of Multicultural Education and La Raza Unida student organization.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.