I am honored to be working as a Teaching Artist for Theatre Action Project for the fourth year. This year is the first year TAP has placed Teaching Artists in Community Rooms at two different sites from the Housing Authority of the City of Austin. My placement this year is at Shadowbend teaching a Drums and Drama class with my co-teacher, Jean Claude who is an amazing West African drummer and dancer.
During the month of March, we honored the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez, one of the most important leaders of the 20th century. His legacy of workers rights, civil rights, environmental justice, equality for all, peace, non-violence, children and women’s rights, deserves national recognition. Cesar Chavez inspired millions of people across the country of all races and nationalities to engage in social & economic justice for farm workers.
Students at Shadowbend watched a Children’s Documentary on Cesar E. Chavez and listened to and acted out scenes from the book about Cesar Chavez titled Harvesting Hope. Shadowbend students also learned various songs from the Chicano and farm worker movement, created a Shadowbend “Si Se Puede” (“Yes We Can”) banner, and painted farm worker eagle head bands and arm bands.
To conclude our month’s activities, I took two families of students to PODER’s Annual Cesar E. Chavez March on March 31, 2010. Sonia, Esmeralda and Jose Gama as well as Elizabeth and Joshua Johnson traveled with me to attend the march. Wearing farm worker eagle head bands and arm bands, Shadowbend students attracted much camera attention. Esmeralda and Elizabeth even made it to the front page of the Austin American Statesman’s Metro Section and the rest of the students made it to the front page of the Stateman’s spanish newspaper, “!Ahora Si!”
The legacy of Cesar Chavez came to life while students carried the Shadowbend “Si Se Puede” banner and fruit and vegetable baskets as they marched alongside 100 marchers from the Austin Community. The march began at Terrazas Library and ended at the Austin City Hall where we were greeted by various performers and speakers. Shadowbend students were a part of the closing festivities as they passed out copies of the famous Mexican song, “De Colores” and sang the song on stage in front of a huge crowd at City Hall. Everyone in attendance sang along with the students as the festivities came to a close and the closing band took the stage.
Students at Shadowbend took much pride in their community and in the lessons they learned from the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez. The event was a memorable occasion where the Austin community shared one voice for hope chanting the famous farm worker struggle phrase – “Si Se Puede!” “Yes We Can!”
Author: Erika Gonzalez, TAP Teaching Artist
Photos: Rene Renteria