Music and the arts can uplift spirits and entertain, but they can also be powerful forces for change, as the new documentary, "A Song for Cesar" demonstrates.
The film highlights the musicians and artists who worked to advance the farm workers movement founded by labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in the 1960s and '70s. Cultural luminaries such as Joan Baez, Maya Angelou and Carlos Santana lent their voices in support of Chavez's work.
Hidden Villa, Foothill College and the Los Altos History Museum have teamed up to offer a free screening of "A Song for Cesar" on Friday, April 29, at 6 p.m. at Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.
Andres Alegria and Abel Sánchez, the co-producers and directors of the film, will be on hand for a panel discussion following the film. Also on the panel will be a representative from the Cesar Chavez Foundation and Lynn Rivas, associate director at Hidden Villa. Rivas worked with Chavez as part of his communications team, according to a press release about the event.
In fact, Hidden Villa, a farm and wilderness preserve in Los Altos Hills, has another connection with Chavez. In 1965, the farm's founders, Frank and Josephine Duveneck, supported Chavez and Dolores Huerta in organizing the farmworkers movement that became the United Farm Workers, the labor union that sought fair wages and safer working conditions for farm workers.
"Cesar Chavez saw himself as a labor leader, fighting for the rights of farmworkers. But it is his impact on the life changes of all Latinos that makes him the important historical figure he is today," Rivas said in the press release. "When I learned of the connection between Hidden Villa and Cesar Chavez, and the relationship he had with Josephine and Frank Duveneck, it brought tears to my eyes."
The stories of Chavez's work and the Duvenecks will be among many important local histories featured in a new permanent exhibition at the Los Altos History Museum that's slated to open in early 2023.
Foothill College is located at 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Admission is free, but audience members must register for a seat. For more information, visit hiddenvilla.org/songforcesar.