Dolores Huerta

by Savannah from San Diego

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ''''I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along."~Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote by Eleanor Roosevelt represents Dolores Huerta because it states that a true hero is persistent in achieving their goals and is willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of a good cause. Dolores Huerta is a labor activist whose most famous achievements include establishing the United Farm Workers Union, an organization dedicated to providing equality to farm laborers. In order to successfully initiate the UFW in 1962, Huerta was forced to sacrifice her job as a mother raising her eleven children. As a result, Dolores Huerta is recognized today as a devoted activist which plays a counter-part in her heroism. Dolores Huerta spent majority of her life living on the West Coast area beginning her life in Dawson, New Mexico. Eventually as she grew older, Huerta found herself moving to Southern California. Dolores's work began in the Great Depression time period and reached her prime of work in 1965 during the Delano Grape Strike, as she combined her labor related efforts women's rights activism. Today, Huerta is still working as an avid activist for the rights immigrants in the US. Huerta was always persistent in pursuing her career meaning she gave up spending quality time with her family for her work. She was regularly criticized for this since women at the time were expected to spend all of their time at home. However, Huerta was able to overcome the criticism and continue working as an activist. Dolores Huerta earns the title, "Hero" through her strong morals, selfless acts of courage, and determination to achieve her goals.

"Despite the daunting odds, and with no money or outside support, Huerta and Chavez built the UFW from the ground up through sheer hope, determination, and hard work" (Miller 7). Huerta worked diligently to create the UFW. Although she didn't have much money, she managed to find a way to make her goal happen through fundraising and working multiple jobs on top of her job of being an activist. Huerta sacrificed her entire life for the sake of gaining the rights to farm laborers. Huerta and Cesar Chavez established the United Farmers Workers association in 1962 in order to promote equality on a national level. Huerta spent the majority of her life focusing on her career: "For more than half a century, Dolores Huerta has been fighting to improve the lives of Mexican Americans in the United States." Huerta sacrificed her entire life for the sake of gaining the rights to farm laborers. This was important to her because her dream was to see overall equality in the States and she wouldn't stop working until her dream was fulfilled. The reason Huerta continued to work for so long was because she was determined to achieve her goals in activism. She sacrificed her family, her friends and ultimately her own freedom because she truly believed that it was the right thing to do. Huerta spent more than half a century fighting for a cause that didn't even apply to her. She saw the pain that farm workers faced and it bothered her that they didn't speak up for what they needed in fear of losing their jobs. Huerta was fearless in fighting for the rights which included a raise in income and better living conditions.

Dolores Huerta grew up sheltered from the discrimination occurring during the Great Depression. Her mother created a multicultural environment for Huerta and her siblings to thrive, by running a hotel designed for low income families to stay in. Therefore, equality was a normal thing to Huerta. So when she saw the inequality inflicted upon the farmers, she knew something must be done to stop it. At the time, Huerta was one of the few women to actively participate in politics and as a woman she held a lot of responsibility: "As one of the few women holding a leadership position within a union during the 1960s and 1970s, Huerta was both criticized and admired for her assertiveness and independence. She suffered accusations of putting her position within the union above her role as a mother to her eleven children, and she was resented by both men and women for her "manlike" role within the union. At the same time, Huerta has been considered a role model for Chicanas, Latinas, and other women, especially those seeking to carve out a space for themselves within contemporary social movements. Huerta's position within the union has been essential to breaking down gender stereotypes within the farmworker movement" (Ed. John Hartwell Moore. Vol. 2) . As a woman competing in a job designed for men, Huerta was vulnerable to all types of criticism. Despite all of the controversy, Huerta was able to set the distractions aside and focus on what was important. Huerta proved herself to be an unstoppable force, thus making her an inspiration to Latina and Chicana women. Dolores Huerta promoted the idea of defying limitations and the importance of doing the right thing through her actions. Huerta was tired of seeing the devastating living situations of the farmers and since the farmers did not speak up for their rights, she spoke for them: "'I would like to be remembered as a woman who cares for all fellow humans. We must use our lives to make the world a better and just place to live, not just a world to acquire things. That is what we are put on the earth for.' - Dolores Huerta "(West, Derrick Harper, and West Derrick Harper). In this quote, Dolores Huerta is humble in her work it is apparent she doesn't work in activism for the money. Huerta fights for human rights simply because she hates seeing people being walked over, and she understands why the farmers weren't able to speak up for their rights. During the 60's women were greatly discriminated against, and Huerta standing up for her beliefs opposed this segregation, which accentuates her true moral strength and dignity. Huerta took a stand as a leader in the Delano Grape Strike in 1965, a very controversial time for women all over the U.S. In 1965, women had few rights therefore meaning the men in society paid little to no respect to the women in a work atmosphere. Women who wanted to work and create a living for themselves were often ignored and sent back to the kitchen where they were designed to spend their days. So when Dolores Huerta took a stand as a leader in the farming culture, she of course had to deal with the backlash and sexist remarks made by the rest of society. Huerta was an icon of courage during the Delano grape strike because she risked her image to better the lives of farmers in the U.S.

Dolores Huerta grew up with the idea of civil equilibrium which meant that during her career in activism, she would not allow the limitations of her being a woman stop her from achieving her dream.Huerta worked persistently on gaining the rights for the farm laborers in the 1960's, often times detracting her attention from her eleven children. Her choices earned her some hard criticism from other political competitors but being the strong woman that she was, Huerta brushed off all of the hate and continued to fight. In the 1960's, the ideal job for a woman was raising children and taking on the chore of being a housewife so when Huerta paved the way for future working mothers: "Her union work was always her first priority, to the consternation and outrage of the more traditional adherents to Latin culture. Huerta clearly loved her children and was loved by them in return, but she refused to allow motherhood to deter her from her work." (West, Derrick Harper, and West Derrick Harper). Huerta knew to fulfill a successful career, she needed to keep her priorities straight. She loved her children however she knew that dedicating all of her free time to her career was her goal. Huerta prioritized her work over her children because it was for a good cause. As a soldier with a family goes into the army to fight for our country, Dolores Huerta sought out to seek equality for her people. Which ultimately affected her children and family at home. However, sacrificing family time was not the only debt being an activist cost, Huerta struggled financially while trying to secure her career: "In making the fateful choice to become an activist and labor organizer, she committed herself to a life of hard work, constant travel, and near poverty." (Miller 29) As Debra Miller said, Huerta was forced to endure the consequences of a low paying job while supporting a big family. Many people would often break under the stress and pressures of the incessant press and financial insecurity but Huerta found solace through her strong morals and upbringing. During her career, Dolores Huerta was slowly forced to sacrifice raising her children for the constant attention of her job. Dolores made it clear to her family and to society, however, that her job was her number one priority over raising her children. As well as sacrificing her family, Huerta sacrificed her freedom by getting arrested 22 times for picketing related issues. Dolores gave up everything in her power in order to fight for her cause. Dolores Huerta was determined in fighting for human rights in the 1960's during the Delano Grape Strike. Huerta was driven by faith when establishing the UFW: "Despite the daunting odds, and with no money or outside support, Huerta and Cesar Chavez built the UFW from the ground up through sheer hope, determination, and hard work" (Miller 7). Huerta worked diligently to create the UFW. Although she didn't have much money, she managed to find a way to make her goal happen through fundraising and working multiple jobs on top of her job of being an activist. Huerta sacrificed her entire life for the sake of gaining the rights to farm laborers.

Through her valiant efforts in activism and serious motivation to see equality happen, Dolores Huerta serves as an inspiration for women everywhere. Huerta exemplifies the fact that hard work and consistency pays off. Huerta succeeded in bringing awareness to the hardships farm laborers face through negotiation and personal example. Thus proving in order to achieve a goal, it is not necessary to argue or bribe someone for it. While I was researching and learning about Dolores Huerta, I really began thinking about how I wanted to make a difference in my community. After finishing my research on Huerta, I began looking into different activism organizations in San Diego and discovered a new interest I have. Something that has always upset me while growing up was the subtle superiority between men and women. An example of this is how in some jobs, the men get paid more than the women simply because they're men. Women have always been exhibited to be weak and incapable of doing the same things a man can, and to me, that is completely incorrect. My opinion is if women were given the same opportunities men are given, our country would feel a lot less patriarchal than it does now. My goal in life is to see complete equality in my country. Huerta serves as an inspiration to me because she has taught me that no matter who you are, man or woman, white or black, you are able to stand up for your beliefs and if you are persistent, your beliefs will be followed. Dolores Huerta exemplifies that hard work does pay off, and with the right amount of courage and pride, anything is possible.

Works Cited

Ed. John Hartwell Moore. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. p116. COPYRIGHT

2009 Macmillan Reference USA, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning

Sonia Benson, Daniel E. Brannen, Jr., and Rebecca Valentine. Vol. 4. Detroit: UXL, 2009.

p729-731. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning

"Dolores Huerta." Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. "Dolores Huerta." Dolores Huerta Foundation. Word Press, 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2014.

West, Derrick Harper, and West Derrick Harper. "Dolores Huerta." Great Lives From History: The Twentieth Century (2008): 1.Biography Reference Center. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.

The National Archives. "The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription." National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

Page created on 4/18/2014 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/18/2014 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Dolores Huerta Foundation
United Farm Workers
National Womens History Mueseum - More information about Dolores Huerta
United Farm Workers - Information on the Delano Grape Strike and Boycott
Dolores Huerta Biography