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Spotlight on Dolores Huerta
Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.
Huerta launched the slogan “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, we can”) amid farmworker protests in Arizona in 1972 as a demonstration of her belief in the individual and collective power of workers. For female workers in particular, her role was transformative. At a time when less than 40% of women were in the workforce, Huerta insisted that they have an equal voice at work and in unions, elevated low-wage workers in the women’s movement and mentored young female activists across the country. To Huerta, women are never powerless victims, only leaders and authors of their own stories.100 Women of the Year - Dolores Huerta
Who was Dolores Huerta?
Before the 1960s, farm workers in the U.S. were not paid the minimum wage, and had no influential representatives to fight for their rights.
Farm labor leader and civil rights advocate Dolores Huerta first worked with César Chávez as a community organizer in Mexican American areas of southern California in the mid-1950s. Chávez dreamed of organizing farm workers, and in 1962 he started the National Farm Workers Association. He asked Huerta to work with them, and in the next three years they recruited a number of members. Huerta's contributions to these efforts were invaluable in recruiting women for the cause, in keeping the union focused on nonviolent actions, and in gaining support in the eastern United States for the effective grape boycott that led to contracts for the union.