This day in Chicana herstory: Dolores Huerta (1930)

April 10, 1930:
Dolores Huerta (nee Fernadez) was born in Dawson, New Mexico*

From a biography put together by the Girl Scouts:

Dolores Huerta is the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW). She is the mother of 11 children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Dolores has played a major role in the American civil rights movement.

Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930 in the mining town of Dawson, in northern New Mexico, where her father, Juan Fernandez, was a miner, field worker, union activist and State Assemblyman. Her parents divorced when she was three years old. Her mother, Alicia Chavez, raised Dolores, along with her two brothers, and two sisters, in the San Joaquin valley farm worker community of Stockton, California. She was a businesswoman who owned a restaurant and a 70-room hotel. Dolores’ mother was a major influence in Dolores’ life. She taught Dolores to be generous and caring for others. She often put up farm workers and their families for free in her hotel. She was also a community activist, and supported Dolores and her Girl Scout troop. [Source]

Since college — when I first became aware of Dolores Huerta’s legacy of activism and leadership — I’ve seen her speak a few times at rallies or organized labor events. Those always left me inspired. However, it’s when I see her unexpectedly at an airport or restaurant that I’m left a little star struck. Can you blame me?

Her life’s accomplishments are impressive. As an octogenarian she’s still going strong and continues the work to improve women and poor peoples’ lives as the president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. For her 80th birthday party, her organization hosted a benefit concert for the foundation. She speaks out on sexism and homophobia, often ignored in the Latino activist community.

Dolores Huerta is an inspiration to women who want to be leaders and affect change in their local communities and beyond. She’s a mujer to be reckoned with. If you have any doubts, simply listen to the strength in her voice as she discusses her life’s work in an interview with Maria Hinojosa on Latino USA. (Make sure to scroll down… you’ll see someone familiar.)

Dolores Huerta and fans

My last Dolores sighting was months ago, shortly before Christmas. She was eating at Guelaguetza in Koreatown just a few tables away from my friend and I. Of course, she wasn’t alone. She was surrounded by about 5-6 other people. I could make out her familiar voice, but that was it. I didn’t want to bother her. I’d done that once before after watching Culture Clash’s Chavez Ravine at the Mark Taper Forum. My friends insisted on taking a picture. Years later, I’m glad they did.

Also, if I was still a 10-year old Girl Scout, I’d try and earn the Dolores Huerta badge introduced by the Girl Scouts of Central California a few years ago. It’s based on a piece by artist Barbara Carrasco.

Photo of Dolores Huerta by Miguel Paredes.

Oops. Just realized I’m a day late on the posting this. Oh well. Strong women should be celebrated all the time.


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