By Jacqlyn Burnett
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
“The César E. Chavez Plaza,” formerly known as Lot 56 in Old Town, Lansing, will soon be decorated with an arch in memorial of César E. Chavez.
Maria Starr, 56, president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement in the Greater Lansing Area, hopes to raise more than $10,000 to build the arch. “The arch will be styled in the same way of the London Bridge and will have engraved ‘César E. Chavez Plaza’ on an iron rod over the structure,” said Starr.
The fundraiser will be March 30. This is the council’s third annual fundraiser. They began when Lot 56 was renamed “The César E. Chavez Plaza.” “What was called Lot 56 has been used for events like jazz performances and other festivities. The arch will make this area seem less like a parking lot and more like what it is actually used for,” said Starr.
Starr remembers visiting this area, on the north side of Lansing, when she said it was mostly filled with Latino businesses. Chavez is recognized as a Latino who “decided to have a voice,” said Starr. Chavez stood up for Latino field workers who were treated poorly.
“Growing up, we weren’t vocal. We would simply do what we were told. The second and third generation started learning about civil rights and standing up for yourself,” said Starr, who is also Latino.
The chapter educates diverse people about civil rights, voter education, immigration and more.
Chavez wanted respect and equality for field workers, unlike the hardship and injustice he experienced in his childhood. The Ingham County Board of Commissioners has declared March 31, 2013, as “Cesar E. Chavez Day.” The day would have been his 86th birthday. He died in 1993.
The fundraiser for the “The César E. Chavez Plaza” arch will take place at 426 Clare St., Lansing. It will begin with a dinner at 6 p.m. followed by a presentation and dancing ending at midnight. Tickets will be $10 at the door and children 12 or younger will be free.