Exploring the life of Dolores Huerta

Panel follows a screening of biopic on prominent activist 

Several dozen students and community members recently packed the White Library to hear the story of Dolores Huerta, a woman whose life accomplishments have remained overshadowed for nearly six decades.

The Del Mar College Mexican-American Studies Program and Department of Social Sciences held a special screening of the documentary “Dolores” for Women’s History Month.

KRIS-TV news anchor Tessa Barrera emceed the event, which was followed by a panel discussion including Del Mar College’s own Assistant Professor of History Dawson Barrett and Associate Professor of History Gerald Betty, as well as Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Associate Professor of Sociology and Mexican American Studies Isabel Araiza and Adjunct Professor of Spanish and Mexican American Studies Yolanda Godsey.

“Dolores” examines the life of Huerta, a fierce activist and labor leader who stood at the forefront of the Chicano movement and fight for farmworkers’ rights. Her tireless efforts through protest and grassroots organization eventually led to her creation of the Agricultural Workers Association in 1960 and co-founding of the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, both of which aimed to improve the social and economic conditions of farmworkers. The two would later merge and become the United Farm Workers of America.

Along the way, Huerta coined the now iconic saying “Si se Puede,” most often shouting it at her various rallies, invigorating all that stood for her cause.

“Not only does this film provide an opportunity to be entertained while learning, but it is a true depiction of America’s history,” Barrera said. “It’s an opportunity for minorities to be proud of the things our ancestors fought for as well as a true mirror for all Americans to see the hardships people of color, or different backgrounds, had to deal with and are still dealing with.”

It’s been assumed that Huerta’s accomplishments have remained largely unnoticed due to her being the sister-in-law of labor leader and civil rights activist César Chavez, who is undoubtedly known by many across the historical community. Although Huerta and Chavez fought side by side for the same cause, many believe Huerta’s unfamiliarity proves the topic of gender equality is still a conversation to be had.

“I felt like I was able to learn a different perspective. Growing up, I never learned anything about her in school,” said nursing major Safia Yusuf.

Beyond Huerta’s achievements with labor workers, she was also a mother of 11 and a staunch feminist. Huerta, who had been the only woman on the UFW executive board, proved herself to be well ahead of her time.

“The historical Dolores Huerta became transformed into a symbol by those who were inspired by her example of dedication and sacrifice for her cause, and for those who were powerless to defend themselves,” Betty said during the panel discussion.

You can watch the television premiere of “Dolores” at 9 p.m. March 27 on PBS.

Previous pictures and articles pertaining to Dolores Huerta and her visit to Del Mar 3 years ago can be accessed here: http://www.foghornnews.com/2015/11/dmc-celebrates-human-rights/

Also take a look into the other articles that have been written in regards to the Chicano Movement and the efforts Dolores and her team fight for every day: http://www.foghornnews.com/2018/02/chicanas-fight-oppression-then-and-now/

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