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Legacy in Living Color: “In His Own Words – The Life and Work of César Chávez” Exhibit Sheds Light on an American Hero

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Dr. Nedra S. Kinerk stands beside her chosen poignant image from the “IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ” exhibit: César Chávez and Walter Reuther, a symbol of unity and struggle. The picture resonates deeply with her, bridging personal connections and the universal spirit of social justice. A moment in history, immortalized. Photo by Roberto Hugo González
Dr. Nedra S. Kinerk stands beside her chosen poignant image from the “IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ” exhibit: César Chávez and Walter Reuther, a symbol of unity and struggle. The picture resonates deeply with her, bridging personal connections and the universal spirit of social justice. A moment in history, immortalized. Photo by Roberto Hugo González

Texas Border Business

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By Roberto Hugo González

McALLEN, Texas – As you step into the McAllen Heritage Center (MHC) this August, be prepared to travel back in time. The museum, known for its devotion to preserving the unique history and culture of the region, is hosting a special exhibition dedicated to the life and legacy of César Chávez titled, ” IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ.”

Chávez, an inspiration of hope for migrant farmworkers, faced the challenges of racial discrimination and economic disparity from a young age. These experiences fueled his lifelong dedication to championing the rights of farmworkers through nonviolent means, ultimately founding the first farm workers’ union. The exhibit presents 38 captivating photographs paired with excerpts from Chávez’s speeches, writings, and interviews, offering visitors a profound glimpse into his journey and the philosophical underpinnings that drove him.

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This month-long exhibit, inaugurated and hosted by Dr. Nedra S. Kinerk, a renowned community volunteer and co-founder of MHC along with Elva M. Cerda, has struck a chord with many in the community. Several attendees have shared personal memories of Chávez or recalled tales of their parents standing shoulder to shoulder with him during the historic farmers’ strikes.

In an intimate conversation, Dr. Kinerk revealed the emotional depth of the exhibit. She recalled attendees’ moving stories and memories of Chávez, emphasizing how this leader’s influence extended beyond the confines of McAllen and resonated nationally.

Dr. Kinerk, when asked to pick one standout image from the exhibit, chose a photograph of Chávez marching alongside Walter Reuther, president of UAW at the time. The photo holds personal significance for her, given her husband’s close association with Reuther.

Looking ahead, the MHC is pushing for the development of a three-story building annex, which will allow the museum to properly display the vast number of materials they currently possess. With the continued support of the community and the city, Dr. Kinerk hopes to further amplify the tales of people, culture, and history that McAllen holds dear.

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The ” IN HIS OWN WORDS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ” exhibit is an authentication to the importance of remembering and honoring the champions of social justice like César Chávez. His unconquerable spirit, as depicted through the visuals and words at MHC, serves as a reminder of the enduring power of perseverance and unity.      

The McAllen Heritage Center Museum of History & Culture is proud to host this 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.

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