Why now is the time to honor Dolores Huerta

by Liz Fuentes

“Courageous, drive, fearless, feminist, optimistic, passionate and strength are only some of the various words that Dolores Huerta’s seven daughters use to describe their mother – a labor organizer who helped co-found the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez and a civil rights activist through her Dolores Huerta Foundation.”

When we teach ours students about historical figures, we hope to inspire them with the values and actions of those people. But the challenge is always to bring history into the present moment and make it relevant and compelling for the children. When we teach about Cesar Chavez and Dr. King, among others, we need to be very conscious of the connection between then and now. By including Dolores Huerta in this yearly commemoration for Cesar and the Farmworkers, the work of making the struggle present today is basically done for us by what Dolores does and how she lives her life…today.

The facts of her life are available – in this packet and on line. Her co-founding of the Farm Workers Union is part of our yearly study. But we need to extend that study to what has happened since Cesar died and the work that she has done to embrace so many of the issues of this moment.

Dolores has 11 children many of whom are active in the struggle for civil rights. An achievement in itself! She was able to raise these sons and daughters with the help and cooperation of the community built around the farmworkers movement. And she never stopped organizing. As the world grows more and more interconnected and interdependent, Dolores illustrates with her person and her action how intertwined we all are.

She speaks and works for justice not only in the fields, but at the border, in the voting booth, in the courts, and in people’s lives and concerns about who and how they love, rights of women, LGBT folks, and most recently in Selma remembering the hard work and sacrifice embodied on that bridge, and bringing that hard work and sacrifice into our lives today.

In Selma this past week she said -”Organize, organize, organize! We’ve got to be sure we get people elected who will get rid of these racist laws they’ve passed and pass laws that will actually support our community.”

As we have in every celebration of the UFW we should continue to link the work of Cesar and Dolores to the perhaps most threatening issue of out time – Climate Change. The UFW rang that alarm years ago and continues to do so. Cesar and Dolores experienced first hand our dependence on weather and climate as farm workers and organizers. It has only gotten worse. We need to connect for our students the lack of action on Climate Change with the politics that oppress so many people.

For much more information go the Dolores Huerta Foundation at doloreshuerta.org. Dolores is very active in all the areas mentioned above, and events, speeches etc. are all available on the website.

One of Dolores’ daughters is writing a book about her mom, and there is a movie being made about Dolores by Peter Bratt. Hopefully those will be available soon.

Please read the articles that follow to get a better understanding of this extraordinary woman.