Actor and Activist Edward James Olmos to Deliver Cesar Chavez Keynote Lecture

His Topic: “We’re All in the Same Gang”

Known as the “Olivier of the Latino world,” Edward James Olmos is celebrated for his talent and creativity. He will provide a glimpse into his life and his advocacy efforts on behalf of Cesar Chavez to the UMKC community.

With a lecture entitled, “We’re All in the Same Gang,” Olmos will discuss uniting as the “human race” in his keynote address at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15 in Pierson Auditorium, Atterbury Student Success Center, 5005 Oak St. Online registration is required to attend this event.

“Cesar Chavez’s passionate and peaceful pursuit of civil rights for migrant farmworkers, labor equity for the disenfranchised and social justice propelled a movement that changed the lives of many,” said Erika Noguera, coordinator for the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. “His legacy is the work that continues in the present, and his image endures as a beacon that inspires those who carry the mantle and continue the struggle today. It is in his honor that we are hosting the Cesar Chavez Lecture.”

The 7th Annual Cesar Chavez lecture is sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

For more than two decades Olmos has advocated for Latino and Latina communities, but his efforts for social justice transcend racial lines, according to his comments during a recent speech.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to realize how in the world are we ever going to come together when we keep on using the word ‘race’ as a cultural determinant,” said Olmos in a commencement speech in San Diego, Calif. “There’s only one race, and that’s the human race. Period.”

The multi-talented actor, producer, director and community activist was born and raised in East Los Angeles, and spent many years in theatrical roles until his performance in the musical play “Zoot Suit” led to a Tony Award nomination.

Olmos scored a personal success with his role as a Mexican cowboy in “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” directed by Robert M. Young, who also directed Olmos in other roles, including “Saving Grace,” “Triumph of the Spirit;” and “Talent for the Game.”

In 1992, he directed and starred in the feature film, “American Me,” for his production company, Olmos Productions. In 1988, he received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Jaime Escalante, the eccentric but dedicated math teacher, in “Stand and Deliver,” which he also produced.

Olmos also won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Lt. Castillo on the popular television series “Miami Vice.” He also received a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination for his work in HBO’s “The Burning Season.” As a producer, he currently has a development deal with ABC.

In April 1999, Olmos launched a nationwide multimedia project called “Americanos: Latino Life in the United States, a celebration of Latino culture through photography, film, music and the printed word,” designed to inspire Latino pride, and to build bridges among Latinos and others.

While busy producing, directing and acting, Olmos participates in numerous humanitarian efforts. He is a U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and a national spokesperson for organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He has worked with David Rockefeller of the Rockefeller Foundation, and serves on the boards of various groups and organizations.

For a complete bio, visit Edward James Olmos on the Diversity site.

Past speakers at the Cesar Chavez lecture include Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Barbara Martinez-Jitner, Roberto Lovato, Ray Suarez and Roberto Rodriguez.

To register for the event, visit the online registration page or for additional details, contact the Diversity office at 816-235-6704. Free parking is available for attendees in Cherry Street Garage, 5005 Oak Street, Level 5 and 6 (Section 32N).


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