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Featured Speakers

Morning Session Featured Speaker

Cheech Marin

Best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo Cheech and Chong (now on tour), Cheech Marin is a paradox in the world of entertainment. Cheech is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector, and humanitarian, a man who has enough talent, humor, and intelligence to do just about anything. He is truly a multi-generational star. 

Cheech (real name Richard) Marin was born in South Central Los Angeles and met Tommy Chong in Vancouver, British Columbia as a political refugee. The duo moved back to Los Angeles and proved to be “entertainment gold.” Six of their albums went gold, four were nominated for Grammys, and Los Cochinos won the 1973 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. The critically acclaimed duo made a fluid transition to films, starring in eight features together.

Cheech is recognized today as a preeminent Chicano art advocate. In the mid-1980s, he began developing what is now arguably the finest private collection of Chicano art. Much of it formed the core of his inaugural exhibition Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 15‐city tour during 2001‐2007 to major art museums across the United States. He states, “Chicano art is American art. My goal is to bring the term ‘Chicano’ to the forefront of the art world.”

Following the success of Chicano Visions, over a dozen additional exhibitions drawn from the Cheech Marin Collection have toured more than 50 major art museums across the United States and in Europe under the direction of Melissa Richardson Banks. In addition, art books have been independently published to accompany many of these exhibitions, including Papel Chicano: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech MarinChicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection, and Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin. Artwork from his collection inspires his work in other ways. For example, the bottle design of Tres Papalote Mezcal, for which Cheech serves as the brand ambassador, was inspired by the contemporary glass sculptures and other works of Einar and Jamex de la Torre, two brothers who are represented his collection.

Furthering his goal to introduce Chicano art to a wider audience, Marin has entered into a partnership with the City of Riverside and Riverside Art Museum to create the national Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry (aka “The Cheech”). Slated to open in 2021, The Cheech will become the permanent home for his more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography; collectively, the most renowned Chicano art collection in the United States.

Cheech is a nationally ranked golfer, active in the charity circuit. Married to Russian-born classical pianist Natasha Marin, the couple resides in Pacific Palisades, California.

Afternoon Session Featured Speaker

Rosalio Munoz

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Rosalío Muñoz is a Highland Park native and descendant of an accomplished family of educators and Methodist ministers. His father, Dr. Rosalío F. Muñoz, was one of the first Mexican-Americans to receive a U.S. doctoral degree. Traveling to Mexico on a family trip catalyzed Rosalío Muñoz’s political awakening while he was still in his teens. When he returned to the states, Muñoz was elected Student Class President at Franklin High School. Later as an undergraduate student, Muñoz was elected the first Chicano Student Body President in 1968. He and his older brother, retired Judge Ricardo Muñoz, were among the first students from East LA to attend UCLA. Muñoz is chiefly remembered as the Co-Chair of the Chicano Moratorium Committee, an anti-war movement which played a pivotal role in shaping one of Chicana/o history’s defining moments.

On August 29, 1970, nearly 30,000 marchers gathered in Laguna Park, located in East L.A., to protest the high death tolls of Mexican-American servicemen in Vietnam. Three demonstrators died that day and countless others were injured. LA Times columnist and activist Ruben Salazar was among the causalities. While this event had a tragic ending due to police abuse—which was a microcosm of the macro military abuse—that grave injustice spurred a giant political awakening in the U.S. Mexican-American community. During the previous year, 1969, Muñoz, in collaboration with Ramsés Noreiga, had begun to raise community consciousness by creating the crusade and twelve-minute documentary “Chale con el Draft (to Hell with the Draft)” that assisted Chicanos seek deferment or resist the Vietnam War draft. On Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1970, Muñoz refused induction into the army and was indicted for draft refusal.

In 1972, Muñoz was acquitted of draft evasion. In 1978, Muñoz ran for the exclusive five-member L.A. Board of Supervisors as a representative of the Third District. The Board of Supervisors governs the sprawling metropolis. Although Muñoz did not win, he did ultimately increase Chicano electoral representation in Los Angeles by the mere act of running during an exceedingly thorny time. Muñoz has been a long time committed member of the Communist Party of USA. He began writing for their newspaper, People’s World, in 1981. From the 1980s-1990s, Muñoz served as an educator in Marxist-Leninism for the Instituto del Pueblo, an East L.A.-based community action center.

As a community organizer, Muñoz has made invaluable contributions to various causes, some of which include anti-war activism, electoral politics, healthcare, housing, immigration reform, and labor unionizing. He has served as the Coordinator for Latinos for Peace among other leadership roles. His recent organizing efforts include greatly influencing Latinas and Latinos to vote for Obama during the 2008 presidential election. He continues to educate the youth through activities such as conducting interviews with Young Theatreworks. He still makes guest appearances for public events such as the 40th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium at the Plaza Olvera Mexican American Institute in downtown Los Angeles.