28 October 2010
The César E. Chávez Leadership Conference (CECLC) began 22 years ago as a gathering of Hispanic high school students from the Portland Public Schools. The first event took place in early February. On the day before the conference, a snow storm hit the Portland metropolitan area which resulted in the closing of the schools and the cancellation of bus transportation. By mid morning of the day of the event, 125 determined students found their way to the conference site. They were not to be deterred.
Prior to the transition of its current stature, the CECLC was part of a larger Latino advocacy group known as Hispanics in Unity for Oregon (HIUFO).
Today, the CECLC is the largest high school student event for Latino students in Oregon. Last year, in excess of 1,500 students, presenters, exhibitors, school staff, volunteers and invited guests attended leadership workshops, college/university fair and listened to distinguished keynote speakers. Over the years, the CECLC has expanded to include high schools from Clackamas, Columbia, Lincoln, Linn-Benton, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington and Yamhill counties. Altogether 65 high schools from Northwest Oregon attend the annual César E. Chávez Student Leadership conference. During the last 20 years, at least 20,000 high school students have been part of this event and, as such have come to know and identify with César E. Chávez and his legacy.