Latino Thought Makers present cultural icon Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin for intimate conversation at Knox

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Special To / The Advocate

By Kit Duckworth, Staff Writer

Attempting to bridge generational gaps while offering an example of how to navigate negative perceptions in entertainment and promote an activist’s agenda is difficult. However, some people make it their life’s work.

Latino comedian and activist Richard “Cheech” Marin has been invited to speak to these issues and many more at Contra Costa College in partnership with Latino Thought Makers and the Contra Costa College Foundation.

The event, “A Conversation With Cheech Marin,” will be held at the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts Thursday at 7 p.m.

As an added bonus, the option of live streaming the conversation will be made available to those unable to attend the live event.

For community members who wish to livestream the event, a Google Form asking for first name, last name and a valid email address will need to be completed.

A link to the form can be found on the Contra Costa College website page highlighting the event. Instructions will be listed under the heading, Latino Thought Makers: A Conversation with Cheech Marin.

Co-sponsored by Chevron, along with CCC Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Equity Mayra Padilla, Marin’s one-time visit will be hosted by funnyman Rick Najera.

In past Latino Thought Makers sponsored programs, Najera has spoken with the likes of Edward James Olmos, Dolores Huerta, Danny Trejo and relatives of Cesar Chavez.

The event will open with a welcome from Dr. Padilla, followed by comments from Eric Zell, chairperson of the college Foundation.

After Zell, Marin and Najera will take center stage.

The actor will reflect on his life and career, which includes being half of the iconic duo Cheech and Chong beginning in the 1970s, all the way to his voice acting in the 2017 Disney film “Coco.”

Marin is an accredited actor, director, writer, comedian and musician.

He also authored a book titled “Cheech is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong!”

Through the years, Marin has cultivated a reputation as an activist based mainly in Latino issues. One example of such activism is a presentation he gave about respecting Chicano art and culture at Midwestern State University in Texas on Sept. 19.

CCC music major Murfy Williams said, “Everyone deserves to have their culture respected and appreciated and made valid. I think it’s cool the college is making an effort to do that by acknowledging Latino Heritage Month. Having someone from their culture who has made it, who’s famous and still kept their Latino identity, is really inspiring. It’s so cool that there’s a platform for people to see that.”

Sara Marcellino, development officer for the Foundation, is coordinating the event. She said the Foundation’s goal is to acknowledge and honor Latino Heritage Month by bringing in a “famous and politically active name to campus.”

Latino Thought Makers is a known and respected program and Marin is a nostalgic figure because of his years as part of the comedy duo Cheech and Chong.

“We at the Foundation really want community members to come to campus and see its beauty and all it has to offer. We like to increase the awareness of the college and one way to do that is to throw events and invite people from the community to come,” Marcellino said.

Currently there are no future events planned in collaboration with Latino Thought Makers.

Admission to this event is free, but tickets are required to see the event live. All tickets were completely sold out within two days of the event being announced, Marcellino said.

For community members who want to share in Marin’s experiences but are wary of his history of “drug” humor, the event is billed as completely family-friendly.

As with any Knox center event, parking will be free and spaces for those with disabilities are limited. So arriving early ensures the best spots.