César E. Chávez Day to celebrate past with plaza expansion
The second annual Milwaukee César E. Chávez Day celebration will take place March 31 at Chávez Plaza in front of El Rey supermarket, 916 South César E. Chávez Drive.
The festivity, which commemorates the birthday of the renowned civil rights leader, will feature speeches from local leaders and project plans for the continued construction of Chávez Plaza. Work on the plaza was launched with the unveiling of a life-size statue of Chávez at the 2016 César E. Chávez celebration.
Milwaukee’s César E. Chávez Day celebration and the ongoing Chávez Plaza project are part of the FARM Project, a broader effort to seed arts, culture and commerce in the Clarke Square neighborhood and César E. Chávez Drive business corridor. In addition to the plaza and celebration, the FARM Project has been responsible for Ciclovia MKE, an active living and open-streets event that has seen over 1,000 visitors since 2015, and Lotería!, an art exhibition that featured local artists’ modern renditions of the popular Mexican card game.
“Chávez Drive and Clarke Square are rich in heritage and culture,” says Julio Maldonado, Chair of the César E. Chávez BID board of directors. “With the FARM Project, we’re harnessing the talent and character in this community and building the area as a creative and commercial destination that residents can be proud of and visitors can be inspired by.”
The César E. Chávez Day celebration will kick off at 3 p.m. and will be hosted by Ian Bautista, Executive Director of the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative (CSNI). Public speakers include County Supervisor Peggy West, Alderman José Pérez and Eugene Manzanet, CSNI board director and chair of CSNI’s economic development work group. Attendees are welcome to enjoy a reception inside El Rey supermarket following the ceremony.
In advance of the event at El Rey, César E. Chávez day will be observed at Milwaukee City Hall. Alderman José Pérez will host a noon press conference featuring speeches by local Latino leaders followed by a celebratory cake cutting. Attendees can access City of Milwaukee resource tables from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Milwaukee’s César E. Chávez day is a great example of progress, and a growing metropolis that celebrates people of all cultures,” said Alderman Pérez. “Our community is excited to connect and expand our potential. With the ongoing success of our efforts I foresee great things for Milwaukee.”
Looking forward, the FARM Project plans to launch an Artist in Residency program on César E. Chávez Drive later in 2017. The selected artist would work with the neighborhood to create public art along the commercial corridor and work from a gallery space on Chávez Drive.
The mission of the César E. Chávez Business Improvement District is to continue to unite and improve the community through culture, art and commerce.
The mission of the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative is to improve the neighborhood and benefit community residents. CSNI is responsible for leading and coordinating the continued implementation of the Clarke Square Quality of Life Plan.