Cesar Chavez Day

A portrait of civil rights activist Cesar Chavez was displayed during the city's 12th annual Cesar Chavez celebration at Pacific Community Center. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / March 30, 2013)

For South Pasadena attorney Ruben Duran, images of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez bring to mind his father.

Much like Chavez, Duran’s father worked in manual labor and taught him the value of hard work. Duran pushed through years of schooling to become a partner at Burke, Williams and Sorensen, a law firm where he counsels agencies statewide.

PHOTOS: Glendale's Cesar Chavez celebration at Pacific Community Center

“He worked that hard so I didn’t have to,” Duran told an audience at Glendale’s 12th annual Cesar Chavez celebration on Saturday at Pacific Community Center, where hundreds of residents gathered to commemorate Chavez’s life.

Attendees were treated to free tacos, games, mariachi music, a traditional Aztec dance and a lesson about Chavez’s life from Duran, who was a guest speaker. Duran is a member of the nonprofit Vecinos de South Pasadena’s board of directors, an organization dedicated to advancing Latino culture.

Chavez’s work with the United Farm Workers — which used nonviolent tactics to protest the unequal treatment of farm workers in California — has taught Duran several valuable lessons in humility, family, community and struggle, he said.

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But most importantly, Chavez’s activism taught Duran that “anybody can make a difference,” he added.

Chavez’s message of the need for living wages, to provide food and clothing and to be treated with dignity, was multicultural, Mayor Frank Quintero said.

Quintero, who started the annual celebration for Chavez 12 years ago in the city, knew the event would garner interest and community support because it honored “such an important person.”

“For me, he speaks to all Americans,” he said.

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