Untold Stories Guide

Centro Cultural César Chávez

The Centro Cultural César Chávez (the “Centro”) was created by the Chicano Student Union in 1972. It was originally called the Chicano Cultural Center and later the Hispanic Cultural Center. Prior to having a physical building of their own, the original community met in the basement of Milam Hall. (1) Five years after its inception, on April 13, 1977, OSU President Dr. Robert MacVicar cut the ribbon to open the Centro to the public. (2) Established shortly after the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, also known as El Movimiento, the Centro was a symbol of political triumph for Chicano/a and Latino/a students at OSU. (3) It served as a safe space for Chicano/a Latino/a students to come together and discuss issues pertinent to their identities and communities without the danger of being ostracized.

Now the Centro, sometimes commonly referred to as “The 4Cs” or the “CCCC,” serves many purposes for OSU students. Nazario Rivera, who worked at the Centro as the 2013-2014 Internal Coordinator, explained that for him, originally the Centro was just a “good spot to chill,” but after spending so much time at the Centro, he has learned much more about different aspects of Latino/a culture. (4) Academic, recreational, and social events are regularly organized by the Centro, with the purpose of educating students and community members about Chicano/a and Latino/a culture. Besides the positive social atmosphere, the Centro also functions as a studying location and resource for the academic success of many OSU students. (5)

The Centro also continues to maintain its legacy as a product of El Movimiento, which focused on protecting the civil rights of Chicano/as and Latino/as. In 2005, the Centro was involved in the re-investigation of the U.S. Senate Bill known as HR 4437. This bill proposed adding new policies regarding border protection, antiterrorism, and illegal immigration to federally regulate incoming immigrants. Members of the Centro participated in rallies and educated the Corvallis community about how the bill would negatively impact Latino/as, effectively doing their part to make sure the bill did not pass. (6)

On April 7, 2014, the Centro celebrated its new building with a grand opening ceremony. Since that time, the Centro has commissioned numerous artists to paint murals that both beautify the space and educate the public. On behalf of the Centro’s staff Rivera stated: “We are very excited about the new building because it will help us serve the community more.” (7)

The spirit of César Chávez, a civil rights leader who cared deeply about the liberation of Chicano/as and Latino/as, continues to survive at the Centro. (8) Students are able to learn and grow in a safe and supportive environment and the OSU community continues to be enriched with the various events the Centro puts on throughout the year. (9) Fortunately, the new building for the Centro Cultural César Chávez will allow for more student resources and events, which will simultaneously allow the legacy of César Chávez and other civil rights leaders to continue.

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