April 11, 2000
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Jerry Cohen, a long-time colleague of César Chávez, will speak on Monday, April 17, at 7 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. He will discuss "César Chávez: Non-Violence and the Politics of Race." The talk is free and open to the public.

Cohen served as general counsel of the United Farm Workers of America from 1967 to 1981. He defended the rights of farm workers in California and federal courts, including the Supreme Court. He also worked to ban pesticides, negotiated collective bargaining agreements with growers and helped to write the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, a milestone in the workers’ rights movement.

When Chávez died in 1993, Cohen recalled those years for the Los Angeles Times. "There was no way you could stop us, and it all flowed from César. He set a very high standard. He was totally unselfish." What Chávez accomplished with non-violence, according to Cohen, was comparable to what Martin Luther King, Jr. did in the civil rights movement. "Those were great years," Cohen said. "César accomplished more with fewer people than anyone I know of. He was like water running downhill at that time. Nothing could stop us."

A film about the history of "La Causa" will be shown on Sunday, April 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium. Cohen will participate in an open seminar with Ilan Stavans, professor of Spanish at Amherst College, on Tuesday, April 18, at 10 a.m. in Barrett Room 4. The film and seminar are both free and open to the public.

Cohen’s visit is sponsored by the Amherst College Department of Spanish and the Office of Alumni and Parent Programs.