Chicago actor Michael Peña to star in new film about Cesar Chavez

Chicago actor Michael Peña to star in new film about Cesar Chavez

This Thanksgiving most of us celebrated with family and food.

But as you enjoy your leftovers let us also honor those who toil in the fields to pick the apples and pumpkins that we used in our pies and the other fruits and vegetables we enjoyed.

Farm workers have long labored for fair wages and working conditions.

A new movie to honor the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, "Cesar Chavez: An American Hero," will come out in spring 2014.

The film features Chicago-born actor Michael Peña, who plays Chavez. Peña also has starred in the films "Crash," "Babel," "The Lincoln Lawyer," and many other films and television shows.

Another Illinois-born actor, John Malkovich, also will star in the film as a grower. In 1976, Malkovich became a charter member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre.

Malkovich also is among the producers along with Mexican actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, best known for their roles in "Y Tu Mamá También." Luna also is the director of the film.

Actress Rosario Dawson plays the other UFW co-founder, Dolores Huerta. The film also stars America Ferrera, of "Ugly Betty."

My mother and her family were farm workers when they moved to Illinois from Texas in the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s as a family we participated in protests and the boycott to support the United Farm Workers.

We stood outside grocery stores, passed out pamphlets and asked people not to buy grapes and head lettuce. My parents made sure we understood the struggle of farm workers.

Later, when I worked as a newspaper reporter in California, I covered Chavez's funeral. It was like a union rally and a parade all in one.

I, like other Mexican-Americans, grew up with Chavez as a hero. Now this film will introduce him to a new generation.

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