Cesar Chavez celebration keynote speaker is Maurice Jourdane


Maurice “Mo” Jourdane stands with short handled hoe in front of painting of worker using a short-handled hoe

Advocate for Latino Civil Rights Attorney Maurice "Mo" Jourdane will speak at Adams State University in an event celebrating the life and work of Cesar Chavez. His lecture begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, in Richardson Hall Auditorium. Book sales and a signing will follow his lecture. The event is free and open to the public.

The evening "Never Say Die: Ending the Use of El Cortito" (the short-handled hoe) begins at 6 p.m. with a performance by Mariachi Corazon del Valley, followed by presentations by Victoria Martinez and Loretta Mitson.

One of Jourdane's greatest contributions to the advancement of farm workers in the fields of California was his relentless – and ultimately successful – effort to end agricultural employers' required use of the short-handled hoe by laborers in the state's lucrative lettuce, celery, sugar beet, and strawberry industries. The short hoe, known by Hispanic farm workers as el cortito (the short one), was the cause of severe and permanent crippling of hundreds of thousands of field laborers. He documents this movement in his book, The Struggle for the Health and Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito (Hispanic Civil Rights Series).

According to Huffington Post, Jourdane attended Huntington Park High School, San Jose State College, and Hastings College of Law. He published several law review articles, two books including The Struggle for the Health & Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito and Waves of Recovery: The Life of an Advocate of Latino Civil Rights. Jourdane's legal experience includes former attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the Department of Justice and the Labor Commissioner; Deputy Secretary of Legal Affairs in the Governor's office; Superior Court judge; temporary juvenile court judge; and judicial council with the court of appeals.

Martinez will present the Hispano story of discrimination and the struggle to keep land and water. Mitson will display artifacts from the grape strikes and share her personal experiences as an organizer for Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers and La Causa.

Cesar Chavez Week sponsors include the Adams State Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement Center (CASA), Adams State Student Life, Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, MCSG, Juanitos Mexican Kitchen, Cactus Hill Farms, Mountain View Restaurant, and Jeff Horton.