Dolores Huerta in 2016
|Born||Dolores Clara Fernández
April 10, 1930
Dawson, New Mexico
|Occupation||Labor leader and activist|
|Known for||co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association with César Chávez, Delano grape strike, Sí se puede|
Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta (born April 10, 1930) is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in California and was the lead negotiator in the workers’ contract that was created after the strike.
Huerta has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants', and women's rights, including the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted in the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993, the first Latina inductee.
Born on April 10, 1930, in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico, Dolores Huerta was the daughter of Juan Fernández, a miner, field/farm worker, union activist, and state assemblyman, and his wife Alicia Chávez. Huerta was the couple's second child and only daughter; the couple divorced when Huerta was three years old. Chávez raised Huerta and her two brothers in the central California farm worker community of Stockton, California. Huerta's mother was known for her kindness and compassion towards others and was active in community affairs, numerous civic organizations, and the church. She encouraged the cultural diversity that was a natural part of Huerta's upbringing in Stockton. Alicia Chávez was a businesswoman who owned a restaurant and a 70-room hotel, where she welcomed low-wage workers and farm worker families at affordable prices and sometimes gave them free housing. Huerta was inspired by her mother to advocate for farm workers later on in her life. In an interview Huerta stated that "The dominant person in my life is my mother. She was a very intelligent woman and a very gentle woman". This prompted Huerta to think about civil rights. Her mother's generous actions during Dolores' childhood provided the foundation for her own non-violent, strong 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".
Huerta's community activism began as a student at Stockton High School. Huerta was active in numerous school clubs, and was a majorette and a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts until the age of 18. In school she remembered a teacher accusing her of stealing another student's work and giving her an unfair grade, an act she considers to be rooted in racial bias. Having lived life being marginalized as an Hispanic, she grew up knowing that society needed to be changed. Huerta attended college at the University of the Pacific's Stockton College (later to become San Joaquin Delta Community College), where she earned a provisional teaching credential. After teaching grammar school, Huerta left her job and began her lifelong crusade to correct economic injustice:
"I couldn't tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children." - Dolores Huerta, year unknown
Career as an activist
In 1955, Huerta helped Fred Ross start the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization (CSO), which fought for economic improvements for Latinos. Due to her dedication and willingness to serve, Ross often delegated huge responsibilities to her. He knew she was capable of delivering the organization's message and promoting its agenda. “As she assumed responsibilities and stance that were traditionally held by white males, Huerta encountered criticism based on both gender and ethnic stereotypes”.
In 1960, Huerta co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association, which set up voter registration drives and pressed local governments for barrio improvements. In 1962, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with César Chávez, which would later become the United Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee. In 1966, she negotiated a contract between the UFWOC and Schenley Wine Company, marking the first time that farm workers were able to effectively bargain with an agricultural enterprise.[not in citation given][clarification needed]
Through her work with the CSO, Huerta met César Chávez, the Executive Director of the CSO. The two quickly realized that they shared a common goal of helping better the lives and wages of farm workers. They co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. They both soon realized the need to organize farm workers. In 1962, after the CSO turned down Chávez's request, as their president, to organize farm workers, Chávez and Huerta resigned from the CSO. She went to work for the National Farm Workers Association, which would later merge with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. “Dolores’ organizing skills were essential to the growth of this budding organization.”
The foundation was later changed to an affiliated agricultural workers organization. Through the organization, she helped champion for the rights of workers in agricultural fields to ensure they were well paid and worked in better conditions.
In 1965, Huerta directed the UFW's national boycott during the Delano grape strike, taking the plight of the farm workers to the consumers. She led the organization of boycotts advocating for consumer rights. The boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers in 1970.
In addition to organizing, Huerta has been active in lobbying for laws to improve the lives of farm workers. The laws that she supported included the following:
- 1960 bill to permit Spanish-speaking people to take the California driver's examination in Spanish
- 1962 legislation repealing the Bracero Program
- 1963 legislation to extend the federal program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), to California farmworkers
- The 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act
As an advocate for farmworkers' rights, Huerta has been arrested twenty-two times for participating in non-violent civil disobedience activities and strikes. She remains[when?] active in progressive causes, and serves on the boards of People for the American Way, Consumer Federation of California, and Feminist Majority Foundation.
On June 5, 1968, Huerta stood beside Robert F. Kennedy on a speaker's platform at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as he delivered a victory statement to his political supporters shortly after winning the California Democratic presidential primary election. Only moments after the candidate finished his speech, Kennedy and five other people were wounded by gunfire inside the hotel's kitchen pantry. Huerta had walked with him several minutes before. Kennedy died from his gunshot wounds on June 6.
In September 1988, in front of the St. Francis Hotel in Union Square, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful and lawful protest of the policies/platform of then-candidate for president George H.W. Bush. The baton-beating caused significant internal injuries to her torso, resulting in several broken ribs and requiring the removal of her spleen in emergency surgery. The beating was caught on videotape and broadcast widely on local television news.Later, Huerta won a large judgment against the SFPD and the City of San Francisco for the attack, the proceeds of which she used for the benefit of farm workers. As a result of this assault and the suit, the SFPD was pressured to change its crowd control policies and its process of officer discipline.
Following a lengthy recovery, Huerta took a leave of absence from the union to focus on women’s rights. She traversed the country for two years on behalf of the Feminist Majority’s Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the year 2000 Campaign encouraging Latinas to run for office. The campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women representatives elected at the local, state and federal levels. She also served as National Chair of the 21st Century Party, founded in 1992 on the principles that women make up 52% of the party’s candidates and that officers must reflect the ethnic diversity of the nation.
Dolores Huerta Foundation
Huerta is president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which she founded in 2002. It is a 501(c)(3) "community benefit organization that organizes at the grassroots level, engaging and developing natural leaders. DHF creates leadership opportunities for community organizing, leadership development, civic engagement, and policy advocacy in the following priority areas: health & environment, education & youth development, and economic development." 
Huerta was named one of the three most important women of the year in 1997 by Ms. magazine. She was an inaugural recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton in 1998. That same year, Ladies' Home Journal recognized her as one of the '100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century', along with such women leaders as Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, and Indira Gandhi.
She was awarded the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship in 2002. On September 30, 2005, she became an honorary sister of Kappa Delta Chi sorority (Alpha Alpha chapter - Wichita State University). She received an honorary degree from Princeton University in recognition of her numerous achievements May 2006. She was lauded in the ceremony: "Through her insatiable hunger of justice —La Causa— and her tireless advocacy, she has devoted her life to creative, compassionate, and committed citizenship." She was co-recipient (along with Virgilio Elizondo) of the 2007 Community of Christ International Peace Award .
She was recognized in 2008 by United Neighborhood Centers of America with its highest individual honor, the Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award at its National Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.[self-published source] She was awarded the UCLA Medal, UCLA's highest honor, during the UCLA College of Letters and Science commencement ceremony on June 12, 2009.
In October 2010, Huerta was awarded an honorary degree by Mills College, who lauded her as "a lifetime champion of social justice whose courageous leadership garnered unprecedented national support from farmworkers, women, and underserved communities in a landmark quest for human and civil rights". The same month, she was awarded an honorary doctorate  by University of the Pacific, which unveiled an official portrait of her for the Architects of Peace Project by artist Michael Collopy.
Huerta received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on May 29, 2012. She is an Honorary Chair of Democratic Socialists of America and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Equality California.
Huerta was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters on May 20, 2017 by Mount Holyoke College, where she delivered the commencement address.
Four elementary schools in California; one school in Fort Worth, Texas; and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado, are named after Huerta. One of the student centers at Pitzer College, in Claremont, California, is named the Huerta Learning Circle Room in her honor. A middle school in the major agricultural city of Salinas, California, which has a dense population of farm workers, was named in 2014 after her. She was a speaker at the first and tenth Cesar Chavez Convocation. In 2013, Huerta received the annual Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, given by Jefferson Awards.
Representation in other media
- Huerta is one of the subjects of the Sylvia Morales film A Crushing Love (2009), the sequel to Chicana (1979).
- She is portrayed by actress/activist Rosario Dawson in Diego Luna's César Chávez (2014).
- She is the focus of a 2017 documentary called Dolores.
Huerta championed for women's rights and empowerment in feminist campaigns during her time off union work. She championed for ethnic diversity in her campaigns.
Huerta married Ralph Head in college. During their marriage they had two daughters, Celeste and Lori. After divorcing Head, Huerta married Ventura Huerta; they had five children together. Their son Emilio Jesus Huerta entered politics and ran for Congress. Her second marriage ended as well, in part because of her time spent away from the family campaigning and organizing.
Later Huerta had a long romantic relationship with Richard Chavez, the brother of César Chávez. Huerta and Chávez never married, but the couple had four children during their relationship. Richard Chávez died on July 27, 2011.
The Dolores Huerta Papers are a part of the United Farm Workers Collections at the Walter P. Reuther Library. There is also significant material related to Huerta in the Cesar Chávez Papers at the Reuther Library.
- List of civil rights leaders
- History of Mexican Americans
- List of Mexican Americans
- List of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients
- National Organization for Women Woman of Courage Award winners
- List of Mills College honorary degree recipients
- List of people from Stockton, California
- List of Scouts
- "Dolores Huerta". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Biography: Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta". National Women's History Museum, Education & Resources. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
- "Remarks by the President at Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony". Obama White House Archives. May 29, 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Meet the 20 MAKERS Inducted Into the National Women's Hall of Fame". Makers. October 5, 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Dolores Huerta". The Adelante Movement. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Sí Se Puede". Makers. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- "Dolores Huerta". Gale Group. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
- Loya, Gloria (January 1998). "Considering the sources/ fuentes for a Hispanic feminist theology." Theology Today. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- García, Mario T. (2008). García, ed. A Dolores Huerta Reader. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8263-4513-4. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "Delta College Cultural Awareness Programs Presents: "A Morning with Dolores Huerta"". Delta College. September 22, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
- Frank, M. “Dolores found her calling as an organizer while serving in the leadership of Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO)”, "Dolores Huerta: “Sí, se puede—We can do it.”." File: Dolores Huerta. Available: Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Ruether Library, College of Urban, Labor, and Metropolitan Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI (1987).
- Rose, Margaret(1990). "Traditional and Nontraditional Patterns of Female Activism in the United Farm Workers of America." Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- Biography.com. "Dolores Huerta". Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
- Dolores Huerta Foundation (November 16, 2013). "Dolores Huerta." Retrieved September 23, 2015.
- "Dolores Huerta Biography". Huerta.hostcentric.com. April 10, 1930. Archived from the original on March 10, 2009. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- Brown, Monica (2010). Side by Side/'Lado a lado': The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. Harper Collins.
- "La Voz de Aztlan - Volume I Issue 6". Aztlan.net. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "DHF History". Dolores Huerta Foundation. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "About the Dolores Huerta Foundation". Dolores Huerta Foundation. Archived from the original on January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "Dolores Huerta :: Biography". Dolores Huerta Foundation. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- 100 most important women of the 20th century (1st ed.). Des Moines, Iowa: Ladies' Home Journal Books. 1998. ISBN 978-0-696-20823-2.
- Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, official web site.
- "Kappa Delta Chi National - Honorary Members". Kappadeltachi.org. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- Author unknown (2007). Two Recipients Share This Year's Award. Community of Christ International Peace Award, 2007. Retrieved on August 3, 2007 from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2007..
- Human Rights Leader Dolores Huerta Endorses Clinton Archived July 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., May 18, 2007, Clinton campaign news release.
- "2008 Democratic National Convention: Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Dolores Huerta, Civil Rights Leader". Prnewswire.com. August 27, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- Currie, Lorenzo (2013). Through the Eyes of the Pack. Xlibris Corporation. p. 293. ISBN 1493145169.
- Elizabeth Kivowitz Boatright-Simon, UCLA's main commencement ceremony Archived August 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., UCLA Newsroom, June 10, 2009
- "Legendary Labor Leader Dolores Huerta to speak at Mills College Convocation". Mills College. Archived from the original on January 7, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "Dolores Huerta Honorary Degree Conferral Open to the Public". Archived from the original on December 12, 2012.
- "Architects of Peace".
- Cook, Rachel (April 26, 2012). "Dolores Huerta will be given Medal of Freedom, White House announces". Bakersfield Californian. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
- "Democratic Socialists of America :: Our Structure". Democratic Socialists of America. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "About EQCA :: Board of Directors". Equality California. Archived from the original on July 12, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- "10th Annual César Chávez Convocation with Dolores Huerta". University of California Santa Cruz College Ten. April 30, 2013. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
- Moreno, Carolina (June 20, 2013). "Dolores Huerta Receives National Award". Huffington Post.
- CHICANA. Retrieved from http://www.wmm.com/filmcatalog/pages/c269.shtml.
- A CRUSHING LOVE. Retrieved from http://www.wmm.com/filmcatalog/pages/c771.shtml.
- Richard, Garcia (1993). Dolores Huerta: Woman, Organizer, and Symbol. CALIF HIST 72.1. pp. 56–71.
- Quinones, Sam (July 28, 2011). "Richard Chavez dies at 81; brother of Cesar Chavez (He helped Cesar Chavez build the United Farm Workers into a political and agricultural force. He organized the California grape boycott in the late 1960s.)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
- Dolores Huerta Papers
- Cesar Chávez Papers
- Amsler, T. R. (Summer 2007). 'Si, Se Puede': Hayward teachers gain concessions and a valuable ally. Rethinking Schools, 21(4), 11.
- Felner, J. (Jan/Feb 1998). Dolores Huerta. Ms, 8(4), 48–49.
- Huerta, D. (Spring 2007). One more child left behind . Ms, 17(2), 79.
- Perez, F (1996). Dolores Huerta. Austin, TX: Raintree.
- Rose, M. (2004). Dolores Huerta: The United Farm Workers Union. In Arnesen, E (Ed.). Human tradition in American labor history. (pp. 211–229). Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc.
- Rosenburg, R. (Editor & Director) (1996). Women of hope [Videocassette]. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities.
- Schiff, K. G. (2005). Lighting the way: Nine women who changed modern America. New York, NY: Hyperion.
- Telles, R & Tejada-Flores, R. (Directors) (1997). Fight in the fields [videocassette]. San Francisco, CA: Paradigm Productions.
- Vogel, N. (September 7, 2005). Legislature OKs gay marriage; Assembly action sends the bill to the governor, who has signaled that he will veto the measure. Los Angeles Times, p. A1.
|Library resources about
|By Dolores Huerta|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dolores Huerta.|