MAGIC VALLEY — For a lot of people, Cesar Chavez is a civil rights leader and an activist who fought hard for the rights of farmworkers, but to Eduardo Chavez he was grandpa.
Cesar passed away when Eduardo was only a year and a half old, so Eduardo grew up not knowing much about his grandfather besides what he read in history books or learned from other people.
“I didn’t feel comfortable speaking or doing an event talking about my grandfather’s legacy because I didn’t understand the magnitude of it. I didn’t know what it meant," Eduardo said.
This is what led Eduardo to want to make a documentary, Hailing Cesar, and learn more about his grandfather's life and why he fought so hard to create United Farm Workers, the largest farmworker union in the U.S.
In order to get a better understanding of what farmworkers go through, Eduardo decided to work in a winery picking grapes.
“As I got older and matured, I realized that it’s just he happens to be my grandfather, but he just set an example for humanity. Be selfless, be humble, be compassionate, be caring,” Eduardo said.
Eduardo made the documentary with the intent to keep his grandfather's legacy alive, especially after seeing the younger generation being unfamiliar with his story.
Eduardo has traveled all across the country showcasing his film to different schools and film festivals. Most recently he shared a link to his film, Hailing Cesar, to a class at Wood River Valley High School. What was supposed to be 30-50 students watching the film ended up being 600 students, after he says some of those students started sharing the link with their friends.
“The students had come to school the next day and we’re talking about how they had started going in and diving into their roots and going and talking to their grandparents about where they come from and why their history is so important. They were making reports to give to their teachers to show why Cesar Chavez is something that needs to be taught in every curriculum," Eduardo said.
During the making of the film, Eduardo came across a Cesar Chavez mural painted in LA. Seeing how damaged it was by graffiti, he decided to contact the muralist who originally painted the mural to help him restore it. Unbeknownst to him, the muralist, John Zender Estrada, had just received a grant from the Cesar Chavez Foundation to help him restore it.
“And he googled me and I guess he called and said ‘hey I’m filming a documentary and I’m in front of one of your Cesar Chavez murals and it's really damaged and it just so happened I already got this grant to go down there and fix it," Estrada said.
With help from The Hispanic/LatinUS Taskforce, he brought one of his Cesar Chavez murals to the Magic Valley. Originally painted in 1995, he hopes bringing his mural to the Magic Valley will encourage Idahoans to want to learn more about Cesar's legacy.
“And it takes an artist or a filmmaker to do it and in my case, it began with art. Putting a mural into a community is putting into a visual, in front of the faces of people and they get to go who is this? Who is this?" Estrada said.
Eduardo said one of the best parts about making the film was seeing his father, the son of Cesar Chavez, be moved to tears.
“He kind of just pulled me aside and said I’m very proud of you and that was a moment that will stick with me forever," Eduardo said.