Fort Worth

Fort Worth event to mark late civil-rights activist’s birthday

Polytechnic mariachi band performance to commemorate Cesar Chavez birthday

Latin Express 40th Anniversary & Salute to Cesar Chavez Event benefits FWISD music students on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at Casa Mañana. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
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Latin Express 40th Anniversary & Salute to Cesar Chavez Event benefits FWISD music students on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at Casa Mañana. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

Carlos Saenz was a student at North Side High School when labor leader Cesar Chavez was staging marches across the U.S. on behalf of farmworkers.

“He represents hope for me,” Saenz said.

Decades later, Saenz, a local bandleader, is joining up with student musicians from the mariachi band at Polytechnic High School to present a concert in memory of Chavez. The event, to be held on Chavez’s birthday — Thursday — is expected to begin at 7 p.m. at Casa Mañana. The event is also expected to feature Latin Express, the band that Saenz founded 40 years ago.

“It has been a blessing to be able to touch a lot of people throughout the years,” Saenz said.

The event is also supported by the Cesar Chavez Committee of Tarrant County, which has grown in membership over the years. The nonprofit committee was successful in pushing for a resolution that recognizes Chavez’s birthday as a county holiday.

Since 2001, the committee has held an annual march in downtown Fort Worth to honor Chavez, Chairwoman Alejandro Hukill Arias said.

More than 500 people are expected at this year’s march, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Hukill Arias said.

Chavez, who died in 1993, has been a symbol for Hispanic empowerment in Fort Worth.

“The main things we focus on are education, social justice and civic engagement,” Hukill Arias said. “When we started our marches, we had maybe a couple dozen people. Now, we have up to several hundred people show up to our marches.”

Yamil Berard: 817-390-7705, @yberard

If you go

  • Salute to Cesar Chavez and Latin Express 40th Anniversary
  • 7 p.m. Thursday
  • Casa Mañana, 3101 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
  • 817-332-2272
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