The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center is a community resource dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Mexican American cultural arts and heritage. Through programs, classes and educational curriculum in visual art, theater, dance, literature, music, multi-media and culinary arts the center fosters appreciation and understanding of Latino culture.
As a tribute to César Chávez, the center is screening three documentaries on the Mexican American Civil Rights focusing on humane prison treatment, the impact of music and the fight for agricultural worker’s rights. Susanne Mason’s film, Writ Writer: One Man’s Journey for Justice, kicks off the documentary series with a look into the prison and justice system. Although Fred Arispe Cruz was sent to prison for robbery in 1961, he had the courage to denounce and file lawsuits against the prison system after observing the horrific brutality of prison life. What he started with his writs of habeas corpus rocked the prison system and jumpstarted the prisoner’s rights movement in the state. The documentary screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and it will include an opportunity to meet the director after the film. The final screening is at 9 p.m. on Saturday. All screenings will be held at the Black Box Theater.
Focused on a lighter subject, but just as important in documenting Latin history is Dan Guerrero’s, Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano. The documentary takes a look at the life of Lalo Guerrero, also known as the “Father of Chicano Music.” The film chronicles seven decades of Latin history through Guerrero’s career as he captured it through various genres such as rancheras, boogie, tropical, norteño, cha-chas, mambos and boleros. Told by Guerrero himself, the film also includes personal stories by Luis Valdez, Linda Ronstadt, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, and Los Lobos. The documentary screens 8 p.m. Thursday, and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the auditorium.
Probably the most known Mexican-American Civil Rights movement is César Chávez’s fight for farm workers rights. Ray Telles and Rick Tejeda-Flores documentary, The Fight in the Fields, tells the story of one of the most important Latino leaders in history: César Chávez, founder of the United Farmworkers of America Union. His non-violent movement and the grape and lettuce boycotts of the 60s and 70s sparked activism and created change that was long overdue. The first screening is Friday at 8:30 p.m. and will be introduced by Susana Almanza, co-director of People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources. The final screening is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Both screenings will be held in the auditorium.
All documentary screenings are free and will be held in their respective locations at the Mexican American Cultural Center located at 600 River St.