Who is she?
Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist who advocates for equality for women and Latin workers and immigrants.
What did she do?
Huerta helped create the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization which fought for economic improvements for Latinos. She was strongly criticized for working as the only Latin woman in an industry of White men. Despite these challenges, she went on to press local governments to improve the barrios, or neighborhoods, in California and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez to help migrant workers bargain with an agricultural enterprise, the Schenley Wine Company, to earn better wages and have better working conditions.
After she was brutally beaten by the San Francisco Police Department during a peaceful protest in 1988, she worked to turn around their policies on engaging with the public in general and with Latinos in particular After a lengthy convalescence, she turned toward women’s rights, encouraging Latinas to run for office and advocating for more women in general to see political power. This campaign resulted in a significant increase in the number of women representatives in local, state, and federal government.
Why does that matter?
Dolores Huerta’s work empowered migrant farmers and women to fight for their own rights and to make their voices heard. She brought public awareness to the plight of the farmers and helped to ensure that our food does not come at a high human cost. Also because of Huerta, we now have 22% female representation in our nation’s capital and an average of 31% female representation on the state level. That’s still far from 50% — and there is still much work to be done — but Huerta truly paved the way for great improvements in both the agricultural industry and our government.