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In His Own Words: The Life and Work of César Chávez

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Elva M. Cerda, the driving force behind the McAllen Heritage Center Museum, stands alongside the exhibit 'IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ,' a confirmation and shared passion and dedication to preserving the stories that shape our communities. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Elva M. Cerda, the driving force behind the McAllen Heritage Center Museum, stands alongside the exhibit ‘IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ,’ a confirmation and shared passion and dedication to preserving the stories that shape our communities. Photo by Roberto Hugo González

Texas Border Business

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By Roberto Hugo González

The McAllen Heritage Center Museum of History & Culture is proud to host a special exhibit from August 2 to August 31, 2023, showcasing the life and work of César Chávez, the remarkable Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist.

At the heart of downtown McAllen, the Heritage Center Museum has been an inspiration for historical education and community engagement. Under the dedicated leadership of Elva M. Cerda, the Executive Director, and the support of the City of McAllen City and community support, the museum recently marked its 15th anniversary with a grand reception. This celebration wasn’t just about looking back, but also forward. The announced expansion plans promise to make the museum an even bigger hub for local history and culture.

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It was in this spirit of celebration and education that the museum hosted a reception to unveil the César Chávez exhibit. On loan from Humanities Texas, this exhibit is a tribute to Chávez’s dedication to “la causa” – the plight of US farm workers striving for better living and working conditions.

During the unveiling, Elva shared some personal insights about the exhibit and the man himself. Chávez’s life journey took him from an eighth-grade education, forced upon him by the harsh realities of the Great Depression, to service in the Navy. But it was his return to the fields and the witnessing of deplorable working conditions that forged his determination to bring about change.

For many, this exhibit serves as a revelation. As Elva appropriately puts it, Chávez’s impact wasn’t just regional or even national; it was monumental. His story is not just a chapter in history; it’s a proof of the strong spirit of an individual dedicated to a cause greater than himself.

While the exhibit is available for a limited time in McAllen, its stories, photographs, and lessons are timeless. It reminds visitors of the sacrifices and determination of those who paved the way for workers’ rights, social justice, and equality.

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Those visiting the museum during this time might find themselves drawn to a particular photo – a young César Chávez in his Navy uniform, a brilliant smile on his face, unaware of the battles he’d soon wage for the betterment of countless lives.

Before concluding, a special invitation is extended to the community and visitors alike: step into the McAllen Heritage Center Museum of History & Culture. Let the life of César Chávez inspire you, as it has inspired countless others. With free parking and no admission fee, there’s no reason to miss this powerful exhibit.         

Visit, learn, and be inspired.

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