In celebrating the profound contributions women have made to our history and culture, it’s crucial that we recognize the women who’ve provided invaluable leadership to the labor movement and shaped our modern work experience – leaders like Dolores Huerta, grassroots organizer, creator of the “Sí, se puede” motto, and hero of many a folk ballad.
From her decades as an activist, Huerta is best known for her critical role in organizing Californian agricultural laborers in the 1950’s – 1970’s. Working alongside Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later formed the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). Through a variety of grassroots tactics, Huerta helped agricultural workers achieve significant collective bargaining agreements, such as the 1970 deal with the California table grape industry, which affected more than 10,000 workers and came as a direct result of her leadership in the 5-year Delano grape strike and boycott campaign. Huerta also advocated for farm workers as a lobbyist, supporting bills that, among other things, allowed people to take driver’s license examinations in Spanish and guaranteed farm workers the right to collective bargaining (unprecedented in U.S. history).
In the years since her involvement with UFW, Huerta has continued to fight for equality and respect through the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which fosters grassroots organizing infrastructure and leadership. Even now, at 89 years old, she continues to travel across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation to support human rights and equality on a variety of fronts. For her lifelong work, Huerta has earned both the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” – Dolores Huerta
To learn more about Dolores Huerta, check out these resources:
- Trailer for “DOLORES” documentary
- NPR Profile on Dolores Huerta
- Dolores Huerta Foundation
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