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For September and October, Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15, 2022), we will feature two posts written by Christine Marin, Professor Emeritus, Historian and Archivist, ASU Library (she/her/hers)
The Danforth Chapel and Cesar Chavez
The historic Danforth Chapel on ASU’s Main campus, located on Cady Mall near the Memorial Union and the Hayden Library, was built in 1947 and dedicated on February 26, 1948, when the University was known as Arizona State Teachers College (ASTC).
The construction of the chapel was funded with a gift from William Danforth, the founder of the Ralston Purina Company. The Danforth Chapel is a multi-faith and non-denominational chapel, used by the university community over time for prayer, meditation, memorial services, weddings, baptisms, Bible studies, and worship.
When the nationally known civil rights leader and labor organizer of the United Farm Workers AFL-CIO, César Estrada Chávez (1927-1993) of Yuma died in 1993, ASU’s Chicano Faculty and Staff Association—now known as ASU’s Chicano Latino Faculty and Staff Association—and ASU’s student organization, MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantiel Chicanos de Aztlán) came together and called for days of mourning for Cêsar Chávez to honor his memory.
They arranged for a priest from the Newman Center on College and University Drive in Tempe to officiate in a series of a Memorial Mass to be held inside the Danforth Chapel. ASU’s students and faculty and staff and local residents of the Tempe-Phoenix areas came to the campus to honor the memory and the work of Cêsar Estrada Chávez. It was standing room only at each Memorial Mass.
In 1991, ASU West Professor, Dr. Josê Náñez, a member of the Chicano Faculty and Staff Association, nominated Chávez to receive an Honorary Doctorate Degree on behalf of ASU. President Lattie F. Coor was with Cêsar Estrada Chávez when he was honored and hooded with the honorary degree at ASU’s Hispanic Convocation held at the Mercado in Phoenix on May 9, 1992.
With ASU President Lattie F. Coor and Dr. César Estrada Chávez is our good friend, Josê Ronstadt, Master of Ceremonies for the 1992 Hispanic Convocation at the downtown Mercado, Phoenix.