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Last Saturday, March 29th, Bakersfield hosted a gala event the likes of which it seldom sees, courtesy of the UFW. The occasion was the Central Valley premiere of the film "Cesar Chavez: History is Made One Step at a Time" and the stars, their fans, the Chavez family and many more gathered together in Bakersfield's Marriott Hotel and the beautiful Maya Theatre to give it the hearty welcomed it deserved

The author, holding one of the many items that were up for bid at the "red carpet" affair: a collection of UFW buttons.
Photo of journalist Shirley Pena courtesy of Anthony Ray. Copyright 2014.

The event began with an exciting "red carpet" affair hosted by Bakersfield's Marriott Hotel. The fundraising event, held by the United Farm Workers Union, featured key actors from the film, Rosario Dawson and Jack Holmes.

Dawson, who in the film had portrayed UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta, spoke passionately to the audience about the "pleasure and honor" it had been for her to participate in the film, noting, "Dolores Huerta was a feminist long before the term was invented!" and expressed her desire to see a film made specifically about Huerta.

Holmes, who portrayed the late Senator Bobby Kennedy, told the audience, "For me, the most exciting part in the film was re-enacting that historic moment when Cesar Chavez sits down at the table to sign the agreement between Central Valley farm owners and the UFW. To portray Senator Kennedy, with (actor) Michael Pena sitting next to me portraying Cesar Chavez, sent chills down my spine! It made me feel like I was actually experiencing that historic moment, and gave me a deeper understanding of how important a role Senator Kennedy played in bringing the plight of Central Valley farm workers to the attention of the media and the general public!"

UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta and current UFW President Arturo Rodriguez also spoke at length to the audience who enjoyed a bevy of tasty treats ranging from fresh, local-grown fruits to stuffed mushrooms. All who attended were encouraged to engage with all the VIPs-including members of the Chavez family-and to have their pictures taken by the official UFW photographer, Tanya X. Leonzo. All attendees also received a special event program, as well as the opportunity to bid on several items, which included a framed poster of the film, autographed by its director.

A delightful, unannounced VIP attendee was Ms. Dawson's mother, who traveled to the Central Valley all the way from the Dominican Republic to attend both events. A tall, ravishing beauty as she stood resplendant in a flowing, pastel-colored gown, she recounted to audience members her family's social and political activism in America, while her daughter stood nearby, proudly beaming.

Afterward, everyone formed a loose march to the nearby Maya Theatre to watch the Central Valley premiere of the film, which was immediately followed by an onstage panel discussion by Ms.Huerta, Ms. Dawson, Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Holmes, who also took questions from the packed house audience. The film elicited strong reactions from the audience, ranging from open weeping to wild cheering. At its completion, many audience members rose to give it a standing ovation. All in all, it truly was a very special evening that the Central Valley will remember and cherish.

Special thanks to Anthony Ray and Tanya X. Leonzo, for their kind permission to this writer and Examiner to feature their splendid photographs of this special event!

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