Cesar Chavez Statue Unveiled on West Mall of University of Texas at Austin Campus

AUSTIN, TexasA bronze statue of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez was unveiled today (Oct. 9) on the West Mall of The University of Texas at Austin campus during a celebration to honor his legacy as an advocate for social justice.

The celebration, which began on the Main Mall with entertainment and remarks from student leaders, guests and university officials, included U.S. Undersecretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker, retired State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos and State Representative Dawnna Dukes. The statue was unveiled on the West Mall on a site between Battle Hall and the West Mall Office Building.

Student leaders unveil the Cesar Chavez statue in the West Mall area of campus at The University of Texas at Austin

Student leaders unveil the Cesar Chavez statue in the West Mall area of campus at The University of Texas at Austin.

Photo: Marsha Miller

The Chavez statue is the first of a Latino on the 123-year-old campus. Chavez, who fought for the rights of farm laborers and minorities, was chosen for the honor by the We Are Texas Too student organization, which prompted the formation of the Cesar Chavez Statue Committee. Chavez died in 1993.

"The unveiling of this sculpture on campus represents a great event in time for students, our university and Texas," said Stacy Torres, the 2005-2007 student chair of the Cesar Chavez Committee. "Cesar Chavez was a man of strength, integrity and responsibility and it is these qualities that I believe the statue will represent on campus."

The statue project was initiated and largely funded by students. It was strongly supported by student government leaders. Ideas for the statue of Chavez and also a statue of Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman from the South to serve in the U.S. Congress, came from students. The committee for the Cesar Chavez project selected artist Pablo Eduardo of Gloucester, Mass., to create the statue. The committee for the Jordan statue project has selected artist Bruce Wolfe of Piedmont, Calif., to create a statue of Jordan, the first statue on campus of a woman. It is scheduled for unveiling at the university's Battle Oaks area in spring 2009.

Christine Chavez Delgado, the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, stands next to the campus statue honoring his legacy

Christine Chavez Delgado (right), the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, and Evelina Solis (left), student affairs administrator in the university's Office of the Dean of Students, stand next to the campus statue honoring the legacy of Cesar Chavez as an advocate for social justice.

Photo: Christina Murrey

"These statues are a product of the strength of students on this campus," Torres said. "It's an example of what can be accomplished when we, as a community, work together to leave a legacy of excellence and understanding."

Dr. Margarita M. Arellano, associate dean of students and the Cesar Chavez Statue project coordinator, said it is significant Chavez and Barbara Jordan, both recognized civil rights leaders, were chosen by the students to be honored with statues at the university.

"It makes me especially proud to see that this generation of students understands, and has demonstrated through the Cesar Chavez and Barbara Jordan statue projects, that they value the diversity of people and ideas," Arellano said.

The issue of approval and funding for the statues was taken to a campus-wide student referendum during the spring 2003 semester. The statues were approved by the University of Texas System Board of Regents that summer. During the 78th legislative session, the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate approved House Bill 1537 supporting a student fee to pay for the statues. Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill into law on June 20, 2003. Collection of the student fees began in the spring 2004 semester and concluded with the summer session of 2007. Leftover money will go toward a scholarship fund.

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.