Mar 06, 2008
Until the work of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez as co-founders of
the United Farm Workers organization, farm laborers in the United
States were seen as expendable.
Huerta will visit Goshen College on March 10 to discuss
political activism in two forums. Monday's convocation will address
"Social Activism in the 21st Century," and at 7 p.m., the invitation
is extended to the community in "Community Activism: Remembering the
Past and looking towards the future" at the Church Fellowship Hall.
Each event will be followed with a reception for further discussion.
The daughter of a seasonal worker and miner, Huerta was the
first member of her family to receive a college education. As her
mother was involved in community activism, Huerta uses her influence
to advocate for justice on behalf of farm laborers and immigrants.
She became a founding member of a grassroots organization in
California called the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service
Organization in 1955. The CSO fought segregation and helped elect a
Latino to the Los Angeles City Council.
Through the CSO, Huerta met Cesar Chavez. Together, they founded
the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United
Farm Workers Union. The pair helped to organize and lead a five-year
strike of more than 5,000 grape workers in demand of fair wages,
which also resulted in the first safety plans and medical and pension
benefits in agricultural history.
NFWA advocated against the use of toxic pesticides that posed
risks to workers and to consumers and the environment.
Huerta also later directed a boycott that resulted in the
California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted
farm workers the right to organize and negotiate for better wages and
working conditions. She then lobbied for the passage of the
Immigration Act of 1985, which granted amnesty to 1.4 million farm
workers. Her work played a key role in the passage of legislation
that afforded Spanish-speaking people the right to vote in Spanish,
and the right of individuals to take the drivers license exam in
their first language.
Huerta worked with Chavez until his death in 1993, and continues
to advocate for social justice as the president of the Dolores Huerta
Foundation, a "non-profit organization whose mission is to build
active communities working for fair and equal access to healthcare,
housing, education, jobs, civic participation and economic resources
for disadvantaged communities with an emphasis on women and youth."