CHICAGO -- Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn officially saluted the cast and crew of the new musical drama “Let the Eagle Fly,” the story of legendary labor leader Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union. Cast members provided a special sneak preview performance of the musical, which is a part of the theatre’s 2004 Latino Theatre Festival.
The musical traces Chavez’s life from his childhood as the son of migrant farm workers in the Great Depression through his founding of the farm workers union and his commitment to the non-violent struggle for social and economic justice. The one-day, sold-out musical of “Let the Eagle Fly” will be performed on Sunday, July 18 at 5:00 p.m.
“Cesar Chavez was a man of great principle, talent and inspiration, and Let the Eagle Fly is a special way to honor his legacy,” Quinn said. “The life and times of Cesar Chavez are an American story that all of us need to learn about and pass on to our children.”
Quinn was joined by Henry Godinez, Director of The Goodman Theatre’s International Latino Film Festival and Jesse Rios of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement of the AFL-CIO -- both were major underwriters of the musical. Also in attendance were Let the Eagle Fly representatives, including Julie Shannon, composer and lyricist; Gustavo Mellado, actor portraying Cesar Chavez; and John Reeger, author of the book Let the Eagle Fly.
Representatives from various unions across the state were also on hand to support the musical and honor the major contributions Chavez left behind.
“It is important to commend today’s leaders within organized labor for carrying the torch in the struggle for workers’ rights,” Quinn said. “We want to continue to support their right to organize, collectively bargain and make working conditions safe and healthy for all of their members.”
Quinn, who met Cesar Chavez in 1974, has been active in promoting the life and legacy of the legendary civil rights leader. Quinn recently launched the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning program. This program is designed to encourage an ethic of service and civic responsibility among K-12 students who -- through academic instruction and community service projects -- learn the importance of service to others.
During the week of March 31, 2004, over 30 schools involving hundreds of students across six counties participated in community service projects. Quinn’s office plans to work with school principals and the State Board of Education to expand this program across the state in 2005. For more information on the Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning program, log on to www.ChavezServeandLearn.il.gov.