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Dig Deeper: Dolores Huerta

Photo from Tom Hilton on WikiMedia Commons

In her 93 years, Dolores Huerta, organizer and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (now United Farm Workers) with Cesar Chavez, made significant strides in fighting for the rights of farm workers, women, and Hispanic Americans.

Political activism and organizing were a part of Dolores Huerta’s life from an early age. It might seem that Huerta followed in her father’s footsteps, as he was a union organizer and briefly a New Mexico legislator. However, according to her biography page from the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Huerta credits her mother Alicia’s independent, hardworking character for sparking a similar determination in her.

Growing up in Stockton, Calif., a culturally and ethnically diverse agricultural city with a significant population of low-income farm workers, Huerta saw early-on the troubling conditions farm workers were subjected to, with which her mother empathized. Despite her position as a divorced mother of three in the ’30s and ’40s, Alicia was equal parts savvy businesswoman and caring community leader, making her hotel a safe haven for low-income farm workers.

According to the Dolores Huerta Foundation, Dolores was always an active student and community member, but her story as an organizer really begins with her work with the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO), where she met her organizing partner Cesar Chavez. Bonding over their shared goal of unionizing farm workers, Huerta and Chavez co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), the first U.S. labor union for farm workers, in 1962.

Photo from Susan Ruggles on WikiMedia Commons

Coming out of a time where gender roles and expectations were especially unyielding, during her work for the NFWA, Huerta strategically used her position as a Latina and as a divorced mother to her advantage. In her examination of the rhetoric of Dolores Huerta, Sowards reports instances of Huerta strategical bringing her children to (and breastfeeding at) negotiations and using tears and emotion to disrupt and subvert expectations in male-dominated spaces.

Perhaps her most significant contribution is her coining of “Sí, se puede,” which translates to “yes, we can,” according to Godoy’s NPR article about Huerta. What we now know as a famous Hispanic activist chant originated from Huerta’s rhetorical ingenuity and understanding of the importance of audience participation.

Huerta’s organizing branched out to the burgeoning feminist movement, even working with notable feminists like Gloria Steinem. She brought these issues to her work in the farm worker’s movement, challenging gender discrimination within the movement and in society as a whole.

Throughout her career, Dolores Huerta has continued to fight for the rights of marginalized people, including working-class women and Hispanic and Latine people. She has worked with countless organizations and causes, including the NFWA, National Boycott of California Table Grapes, Feminist Majority’s Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the Year 2000 Campaign, and 21st Century Party, to name a few. Even at the age of 93, with the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she continues to serve the community and work in activist spaces.

A decorated activist, Huerta’s accomplishments, which are perhaps too extensive to list in their entirety, include being award the Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award in 1988 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom under Obama, a noted admirer, in 2012.

Despite their work together, Cesar Chavez’s name tends to outshine Huerta’s in the public’s recollection. Yet, for her tireless dedication to organizing for marginalized people, Dolores Huerta deserves to be remembered, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month, as the compassionate, dedicated  “Dragon Lady” she is.

Dig deeper and explore the links below for more on Dolores Huerta and her contributions.

Resources on Dolores Huerta at Falvey:

Other resources on Huerta:

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

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Weekend Recs: Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week.

Today marks the first day of Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month. Running from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the diversity of Hispanic and Latine cultures globally and honors the honoring the contributions of Hispanic Americans throughout history. In celebration, this weekend’s recs will highlight some content to help get you into the spirit of the month.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

If you have 4 minutes and 35 seconds…and love Pedro Pascal, watch this SNL sketch from when he hosted this year.

If you have 10 minutes…and want to better understand the differences between the labels “Hispanic” and “Latine,” read this article.

If you have 14 minutes and 2 seconds…and love America Ferrera, watch her TED Talk on her identity and representation in Hollywood.

If you have 1 hour and 46 minutes…and want to watch a Mexican film that made a big splash in the 2000s, watch Y tu mamá también, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. This film manages to perfect the formula for somewhat raunchy hijinks and emotional pull, everything you want in a road trip movie.

Bonus: if you’re interested in learning more about this film from the filmmakers and actors, read this article from the New York Times.

If you have 2 hours and 3 minutes…and love historical biopics, watch Frida, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. This 2001 film follows Mexican artist and icon Frida Kahlo, famously known for her self-portraits.

Bonus: if you’re a fan of based-on-a-true-story films, you can also watch Roma, which follows an indigenous women navigating the political climate of 1970s Mexico while working as a live-in housekeeper and nanny for a wealthy Mexican family.

If you have 3 hours…and are a superhero fan, go see Blue Beetle in theaters. If you were a fan of DC’s Shazam, I think you’ll like this one. Featuring actors like George Lopez, Xolo Maridueña, Susan Sarandon, Bruna Marquezine, Raoul Trujillo, and Becky G (among many others), this movie follows recent college graduate Jaime Reyes as he becomes Blue Beetle, a superhero located in the fictional Palmera City (that definitely seems to take inspiration from Miami).

If you have 8 hours…and are looking for a new book, read Neruda on the Park, available through inter-library loan. This book uses storytelling to highlight the impacts of gentrification on a Dominican family living in New York City.

Bonus: for more book recs, check out past GA Jenna’s Hispanic Heritage Month book list.

For more ways to celebrate, you can find a list of Villanova’s campus-wide Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month events here, including Falvey’s co-sponsored History of Puerto Ricans in Philadelphia event and sponsored Speaker: Dr. Irma Leticia Robles Moreno: “Peruvian Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani: Weaving Shared Memory Landscapes Through Theatre and Performance.”

Annie Stockmal is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant in Falvey Library.

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Last Modified: September 15, 2023

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