Passionate, bold, persistent, and also once described as a “tiny, tough assistant,” Dolores Huerta is a wonderful example of an Acacia Woman. She worked tirelessly to advance women and give them a voice. She has spent much of her life working to protect the rights of minorities and their working rights. Her legacy and attitude is a strong example to other women about the possibilities and the power that we can have when we stand up for what we believe in.
Dolores grew up in Stockton, California with her mother and two brothers. She cites her mother as one of her main inspirations in becoming a strong feminist. Her mother, Alicia, showcased her care for others in fairly running a hotel and ensuring low-wage workers always had a place to stay. She was also heavily involved in her community and made sure to impact her values on Dolores.
After graduating from college, Dolores became a school teacher and this is where her passion for the oppressed began. After seeing her students arrive for class hungry and with no shoes she decided to put an end to the economic injustices happening around her. She began by working the the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO). While working here she founded the Agricultural Workers Association which worked to advocate for the rights of workers. Later she met César E. Chávez who was the Executive Director of CSO. Together they founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) where Dolores was able to secure aid and disability insurance for farm workers. She also participated in local government and was instrumental in creating protection laws for farm workers.
The next step in her career promoting for the rights of others was when she met Gloria Steinem, an active advocate for the feminist movement. This encouraged Dolores to fight gender discrimination within her own movements in the agricultural industry. There was often violence in her work and she experienced this first hand when she was assaulted while protesting. A police officer broke four of her ribs and shattered her spleen. After recovering she set to work on championing for women’s rights.
She traveled the states petitioning for Latina women to run for their local offices, this campaign was very successful. Many Latina women became involved in politics from the local level to federal. Her work has been acknowledged by many, she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, along with many other accolades. Dolores still works today for advocating for those around her. She is the Founder and President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and travels around the states spreading awareness and fighting for social justice and public policy.
Learn more about Dolores fight for the rights of those around her by watching the documentary “Dolores” by filmmaker Peter Bratt. This film focuses on her work with the farm workers unions and the pretests she led to ensure equal rights.