President Barack Obama lavished praise on both labor rights icon Cesar Chavez and the filmmakers who have endeavored to tell his story, at a special screening of “Cesar Chavez” at the White House on Wednesday.
With Luna, co-star Rosario Dawson, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi among those in attendance, Julie Chavez Rodriguez — Cesar’s daughter — introduced President Obama, who spoke about the film and the agenda for his remaining time in office.
“This movie, this film tells the story of a man guided by an enormous faith — faith in a righteous cause and a loving God, and the dignity of every human being,” he said. “And it reminds us how throughout our history that faith has been tested, and that it falls to ordinary Americans, ordinary people, to fight and restore that faith.
“Cesar himself said that he spent his first 20 years working as an organizer without a single major victory,” Obama continued. “But he never gave up. He kept on going, and the world is a better place because he did. And that’s one of the great lessons of his life. You don’t give up the fight no matter how long it takes. No matter how long the odds, you keep going, fueled by a simple creed — sí, se puede.”
Obama linked Chavez’s work with his administration’s health care initiative and the modern effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“We’ve got to keep fighting to make sure that our economy rewards the hard work of every American with a fair and living wage and equal pay for equal work,” he said.
“We’ve got to keep working to fix our broken immigration system. This is an example of where this is hard, but we’ve made progress and we are going to get this done. This is going to happen. It’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when. And I want it to happen now, so we are going to keep on pushing.”
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He also cracked a few jokes during the brief remarks. Obama mistook CDs for DVDs; teased Rosario Dawson about her height relative to the woman she portrayed, Delores Huerta; and mentioned Luna’s much more risqué breakout role from back in 2001.
“I told [Diego Luna] I loved ‘Y Tu Mamá, También,’ but we can’t screen that at the White House,” Obama joked. “It’s a great movie, but this is a little more family-friendly here.”