First Latino California Justice to Speak at Pacific: Talk Follows Documentary about Justice’s Life
Long time civil rights advocate Cruz Reynoso, the first Latino to serve on the California Supreme Court, will speak at University of the Pacific on Thursday, March 31. Reynoso will discuss his life-long fight for social justice and his professional achievements following the showing of a documentary about his life.
The documentary, “Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice,” begins at 7 p.m. in the Janet Leigh Theatre on Pacific’s Stockton campus. A panel discussion featuring Reynoso and the producer of the documentary, Abby Ginzberg, will immediately follow the film. Both are free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by Pacific and the Mexican Heritage Center, the event is scheduled on Cesar Chavez Day and is being held in his honor.
“For more than five decades, Cruz Reynoso has fought to end discrimination and inequality for poor and disenfranchised communities as a lawyer, professor and judge,” said Arturo Ocampo, assistant provost for Diversity. “His story is not only inspirational but invaluable. Reynoso is one of those rare individuals who have helped shape the course of history.”
The son of farm workers, Reynoso rose to become the first Latino director of California Rural Legal Assistance, where he fought for civil rights on behalf of the poor. He served in that position from 1969 to 1972. Afterwards, the UC Berkeley law school graduate became one of the country’s first Latino law professors after joining the faculty at University of New Mexico.
In 1982, then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Reynoso to the state’s highest court as an associate justice. Reynoso served on the California Supreme Court for five years before being recalled along with two other justices during a heated campaign that centered on the death penalty.
As vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Reynoso led an investigation of voting rights abuses in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. That year he also received the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Education and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The panel discussion will be moderated by Maurice Jourdane, the attorney who represented farm workers during litigation that led to the abolishment of the short handled hoe farming tool. The United Farm Workers of America consider the case a major victory due to the severe health effects the tool had on farm workers.
A schedule of events are below. All events are free and open to the public.
3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Presidents Room, Anderson Hall)
Lecture by Maurice “Mo” Jourdane on the “Short Handled Hoe Case” and the working conditions of farm workers. Jourdane was the lead attorney in the fight to outlaw the short handled hoe, otherwise known as “el cortito.”
7 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Janet Leigh Theatre)
Showing of the documentary film “Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice.”
8 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Janet Leigh Theatre)
Answer and question session with former California Surpreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, event moderator and attornery Mo Jourdane and documentary producer Abby Ginzberg.