Dolores Huerta has been an organizer and advocate for 55 years. Her work has grown with each decade; from civil rights to farmworkers’ rights to women’s rights to immigrant rights to environmentalism to LGBTQ rights, all have been incorporated into her activism. As she recently told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!
Each one of our movements has a different path. … In order to really get the progressive agenda that we are all looking for … we’ve got to come together. If we don’t come together, well, we’re not going to be able to win our progressive agenda.
Huerta turned 80 this year, with celebrities and other supporters recently honoring her at a benefit concert for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, appropriately called “Weaving Movements Together.” Held before a packed audience at the outdoor Greek Theater in Los Angeles on August 13, it featured such performers as Carlos Santana, Zack de la Rocha, Pete Escovedo and Lila Downs, along with actor/hosts Martin Sheen, Danny Glover and Benjamin Bratt. Even President Obama sent a video birthday greeting.
Huerta began her career in grassroots organizing after feeling she needed to do more than just teach at a Stockton, Calif., grammar school. She wanted to address what was behind her students’ struggles in the classroom: the economic disadvantages of their farm-worker parents. In 1955 she met César Chávez in the Stockton Community Service Organization, and in 1962 they founded the National Farm Workers Association (now the United Farm Workers of America) together.
I remember hearing about the grape boycotts sponsored by the unionized farm workers’ while growing up, halfway across the nation. Each Saturday, my family members would sit on the porch and share reverent tales of Huerta and Chávez, both mythical figures fighting for the underrepresented.
At 80, Huerta hasn’t slowed down at all. She’s still on the front lines for farmworkers, immigrants, political candidates, feminist causes (she’s a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which publishes Ms.) and anything else that advances “our progressive agenda.” She understands that when we take positions inclusive of all our movements, our activism is much more effective. A good example is the recent Prop 8 victory, as the issue was examined through the lens of feminism, immigrant rights, civil rights and LGBTQ history.
So thanks for your inspiration, Dolores Huerta, and Happy Birthday to you! As you taught us to say, Si se puede (Yes we can)!
For more information about the Dolores Huerta Foundation and upcoming events, check out their Facebook page.