Dolores Huerta

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month


Anette Hernandez, Staff Writer

Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930 in Dawson, New Mexico. Huerta was raised by her mother after her parents divorced. Her mother’s community activism and compassionate treatment of farm workers greatly influenced her. Her mother’s generous actions during Dolores’s childhood provided the foundation for her own non-violent, strongly spiritual stance. In the same interview she said, “When we talk about spiritual forces, I think that Hispanic women are more familiar with spiritual forces. We know what fasting is, and that it is part of the culture. We know what relationships are, and we know what sacrifice is”.  As well as, discrimination which she faced while a student at a school with a teacher, who was prejudice of Hispanics, and accused her of cheating on her papers because they were too well written.

In 1955, she began her career as an activist when she co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization, which led voter registration drives and fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. She also founded the Agricultural Workers Association. Despite ethnic and gender bias, Huerta helped organize the 1965 Delano strike of 5,000 grape workers and was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that followed. Throughout her work with the United Framer’s Workers Union, Huerta organized workers, negotiated contracts, advocated for safer working conditions including the elimination of harmful pesticides. She also fought for unemployment and healthcare benefits for agricultural workers.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Huerta worked as a lobbyist to improve workers’ legislative representation. During the 1990s and 2000s, she worked to elect more Latinos, and women, to political official positions and has championed women’s issues. The recipient of many honors, Huerta received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. As of 2015, she was a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, and the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.