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How do you write and portray the story of a visionary figure who founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation? Biographer Miriam Pawel and playwright/director Luis Valdez (Teatro Campesino) lend their perspective on the crusades of an unlikely American hero who ignited one of the great social movements of our time.

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Luis Valdez

Luis Valdez is a playwright and founding artistic director of El Teatro Campesino (The Farm Workers’ Theater), the internationally renowned theater company founded on the picket lines of the Delano grape strike in 1965 and still in operation in San Juan Bautista, CA, where it is the longest running Chicano Theater in the United States. Valdez’s involvement with Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the early Chicano Movement left an indelible mark that remained embodied in all his work even after he left the UFW. Valdez’s influential Zoot Suit was the first Chicano play on Broadway. His numerous feature film and television credits include, among others, La Bamba, Cisco Kid, and Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution. Valdez is the recipient of countless awards including the prestigious George Peabody Award for excellence in television, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, the Governor’s Award OF the California Arts Council, and Mexico’s prestigious Aguila Azteca Award given to individuals whose work promotes cultural excellence and exchange between US and Mexico.


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Laura Pulido

Laura Pulido is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She researches race, political activism, Chicana/o Studies, critical human geography, and Los Angeles. Pulido has done extensive work in the field of environmental justice, social movements, labor studies, and radical tourism.


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Miriam Pawel

Miriam Pawel is the author of the just-published book, The Crusades of Cesar Chavez, the first biography of the iconic founder of the United Farm Workers. Her earlier work, The Union of Their Dreams – Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement, was hailed as a nuanced, ground-breaking narrative of the movement. She is a Pultizer-prize winning editor who spent 25 years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. She recieved a National Endowment for the Humanties fellowship to complete her work on the Chavez biography.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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