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Voices of Equality: Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta"Ensuring that our children are loved, respected and treated with dignity is what every parent wants. However, this will only happen if mothers and fathers take the first step and not allow their gay child to be treated as a second class citizen. Gay and lesbian children should have equal rights and equal opportunity to a happy successful life."

Dolores Huerta is currently the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing. She co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar E. Chavez and holds the emeritus positions of the UFW as Secretary Treasurer and First Vice President. She is also an active member of the Fund for the Feminist Majority.

As the legislative advocate for the Community Service Organization and the United Farm Workers Union, she was instrumental in passing historic legislation: Disability Insurance for farm workers, Voting ballots in the Spanish language, Driver's Licenses in the driver's ethnic language, Eligibility for Public Assistance for resident immigrants, the end of the infamous "bracero" program, and legalization for 1 million farm workers under the Immigration Reform Act of l984-85.

As the main negotiator for the United Farm Workers, she obtained many "firsts" that had been denied to farm workers: toilets in the fields along with soap, water and paper towels, cold drinking water with individual paper cups, the Robert F. Kennedy medical plan that covered farmworker families, the Juan de la Cruz pension fund (paid for by employers), job security, seniority rights, rest periods, paid vacations and holidays, and protections from pesticides in union contracts.

In addition, Dolores has served in the following capacities: Political director, contract administrator, boycott director, arbitrator and picket captain. More recently, she held a six month position as a University of California Regent and is currently a Professor at the University of Southern California on Community Organizing and lecturing before students and community groups throughout the country and abroad.

Together with Cesar E. Chavez, they established the National Farm Workers Service Center which builds low-income housing throughout the U.S. and Farm Worker communications who have established Radio Campesina stations in California, Washington and Arizona.

There are four elementary schools in California, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado named after Dolores Huerta.

She has received numerous awards among them the Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in l998, Ms. Magazine's one of the three most important women of l997, Ladies Home Journal's 100 most important woman of the 20t Century, Puffin foundation award for Creative Citizenship Labor Leader Award 1984, Kern County's woman of the year by California State legislature, and the Ohtli award from the Mexican Government.

Dolores is regarded as the most prominent Chicana leader in the United States. She is a United States Presidential Human Rights Award recipient. She is the founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation (www.doloreshuerta.org) whose mission is to build active Communities in Action working for fair and equal access to healthcare, housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources for disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on women and youth.

She co-founded the United Farm Workers of America, with Cesar Chavez, whose non-violent tactics led to the passage of the California Labor Relations Act. Early in her career as a political activist, she fought for legislation to permit voters to cast their ballots in Spanish, and the right for drivers to take the license exam in their native languages, an end to citizenship requirements for social security and pension plans, and an end to the captive labor Bracero Program.

At age 77, (78 on April 10th) she is still a tireless advocate for political and social change , Dolores is a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation (www.feminist.org), which advocates for gender balance, a board member of the California Museum of History, Women, and the Arts. She is also vice president emeritus and the secretary-treasurer emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW; a board member for the People of the American Way. She is an advocate for reproductive justice and equality marriage.

Did You Know?

  • In 1993, Dolores was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and became a recipient of the ACLU Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award. She is also a recipient of the James Smithson Award.
  • She is the proud mother of 11 children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
  • Dolores taught a class on community organizing at the University of Southern California.

Dolores has received honorary doctorate degrees from:

  • New College of San Francisco, 1990,
  • San Francisco State University, 1993
  • SUNY. New Paltz University, 1999
  • Cal State University, Northridge in 2003
  • SUNY School of Law in 2004
  • Wayne State University in 2004
  • University of North Texas in 2005
  • Princeton University in 2006

COMMEMORATIONS

Elementary Schools:

  • Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Norwalk, California
  • Dolores Huerta Learning Academy in Oakland, California
  • Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Stockton, California
  • Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Academia Dolores Huerta, Las Cruces, New Mexico
  • Dolores Huerta Elementary School in Lennox, California

High School:

  • Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School in Pueblo, Colorado

 

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