TURLOCK — If it takes a karaoke machine to draw students to a César Chávez tribute, so be it.
California State University, Stanislaus, honored the late farm labor leader with music, information booths and other activities Wednesday.
Student Jose Parra of Ceres said Chávez deserves praise for "stepping it up and raising his voice."
Parra did just that at the karaoke microphone, singing traditional Mexican songs with a few fellow students. Others chose entirely different music, such as a number from "Grease."
Students drawn to the quad could learn about the life of Chávez, who would have turned 86 this Sunday. He founded the United Farm Workers union and led fights for pay increases, improved working conditions and the right to organize unions.
Believing in a dream
"Simple farmworkers they had a dream and they believed in it," said Hugo Que of San Rafael, one of the event organizers. He is co-chairman of the campus chapter of MEChA, which stands for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán.
Beatriz Moreno, a student from the Fresno area, is the co-chairwoman. "I think it's important because it's history, and what (Chávez) did impacted everyone," she said.
The quad activities took place during the day. The evening schedule included a talk by Armando Elenes, who was raised in Hilmar and is a national vice president for the UFW.
The karaoke at the quad drew student Chris Gowans, who attended César Chávez High School in Stockton.
"He did a lot for the Mexican immigrants and minorities," he said. "He was a lot like Martin Luther King for people of Mexican heritage."
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.
The MEChA Club at Modesto Junior College will hold a César Chávez celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today on the east campus quad, 435 College Ave. The event will feature speakers, music, arts and craft sales, and more. Carne asada and chicken will be served with rice, beans and salsa for $4.