Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union, said Thursday she hopes an exhibit in Los Angeles about her life and activism inspires women to live a life of civic duty.
Huerta celebrated her 84th birthday today by attending the opening of
“Viva la Causa! Dolores Huerta and the Struggle for Justice,” which focuses on her life and the causes that she’s championed, including LGBT rights, immigration, environmental justice and women’s rights.
“What I would hope, especially when young women see the exhibit, that they realize that yes, we as women can make a difference,” Huerta said. “…
Sometimes the priorities are a little painful to make because we know when women try to get out there and get engaged in civic life, in political life, that it always means that something is left undone and that is the hard choice that women have to make.”
The exhibit at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is designed to reflect her belief, and that of the farm workers movement, to “make history, not be history.”
Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with the late Cesar Chavez. The National Farm Workers Association later joined with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to form the United Farm Workers union.
Huerta directed the UFW’s national boycott during a grape strike in 1965, which brought the plight of the farm workers to the attention of consumers.
The daughter of a farm worker and a miner-turned-union activist, she was born in New Mexico, where her father eventually ran for political office and won a seat in the legislature in 1938.
Huerta’s mother owned a 70-room hotel in the Stockton area, where she spent most of her childhood and early adult life.
As part of her activism work, Huerta lobbied in favor of a 1960 bill to permit people to take the California driver’s examination in Spanish and the 1963 Aid for Dependent Families bill, which provided disability insurance for farm workers.
She has been arrested more than 20 times for taking part in non-violent civil disobedience and strikes.
Huerta continues to advocate for the rights of workers, including those that are undocumented.
“Because we do have very conservative politics still in the United States of America, I think the only way farm workers are going to get things like unemployment insurance and the right to organize is at the national level,” Huerta said.
Four elementary schools in California, one in Texas and a high school in Colorado are all named after Huerta, who is currently president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which she founded in 2002.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2012.
Actress Rosario Dawson, who portrays Huerta in a newly released Chavez biopic, has said Huerta’s life would also make a good movie.
“I hope with the success of this film that there’s an opportunity to tell her story, ‘cause she’s still writing it, she’s still out there on the front lines doing the stuff,” Dawson said in a recent interview.
La Plaza, located at 501 N. Main St., is open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.