CRLA Director Jose Padilla to speak at April 3 Cesar Chavez Celebration

Jose Padilla, California Rural Legal Assistance Director, will be the featured speaker at the 13th Annual California State University, Stanislaus Cesar Chavez Celebration on Thursday, April 3.

The program, a birthday salute to the ideals of the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez who died in 1993, gets under way at 5 p.m. with a reception featuring Latin jazz and a silent auction in the Carol Burke Lounge. The main program featuring Padilla's presentation follows at 6 p.m. in the nearby Event Center. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the University Union, Associated Students, and the Cesar Chavez Celebration Planning Board composed of students and staff.

Winners of the annual Cesar Chavez poster art, essay, and poetry contest will have their work showcased at the program and be presented with their awards. Stanislaus County kindergarten through 12th grade students participate in the contest that includes two age groups.

Music and dance during the main program will feature the group "Balet Folklorico, Los Falcones" and a group sing of "De Colores."

Born and raised in the Imperial Valley to parents who came from farm worker families, Padilla has devoted his legal career to serving the needs of California's poor through his work with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA), a legal services program that serves 24 of the state's rural counties. During his 23 years as CRLA executive director, Padilla has been an advocate for the poor in rural counties on issues such as housing, labor, education, civil rights, immigration, pesticides, environmental law, and legislative representation.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1974, Padilla was a head teacher with Campesinos Unidos, providing preschool services to migrant children in the Imperial Valley. He later earned his law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley which launched his legal career with the CRLA.

Padilla has testified before President Clinton's Commission on Race and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and serves on the boards of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. He has been recognized by the Los Angeles/San Francisco Daily Journal as one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States." Padilla has been involved for many years with a project he began as a Stanford University undergraduate student that focuses on migrant education, Latino redistricting, political asylum applications, and oral history work with rural Latino farm workers.

For more information, call Gabriela Nuno at (209) 664-6835.