In addition to honoring Caesar Chavez for his efforts in workers’ rights and civil rights, we would also like to mention a few women who also joined the fight on these important issues.
The first is Dolores Huerta, who along with Caesar Chavez formed the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farmworkers Union. In 1965, Huerta directed the UFW’s national boycott during the Delano Grape Strike, taking the plight of the farm workers to the consumers. The boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers in 1970. Many of her activities focused on lobbying for the passing and repealing of various legislative measures including: The 1960 bill to permit people to take the California driver’s examination in Spanish; 1962 legislation repealing the Bracero Program; 1963 legislation to extend Aid to Families with Dependent Children to California farmworkers; and the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Act.
Another important contributor is Alice Barnes. For decades Alice’s energetic and unstinting efforts through her work with the United Farmworkers’ Union, the American Indian Movement, and the Feminist Movement, have helped to create important social changes. Her efforts have earned her the praise and admiration of such notable figures as Gloria Steinem, Governor Jerry Brown, Cesar Chavez, and Dennis Banks. In addition, her efforts also prompted her induction into the San Diego County’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003.
Finally, Gracia Molina de Pick, who was born in Mexico, but moved to San Diego in 1957 was an unrelenting advocate for both women and Mexican-American rights. Prior to her move she helped to organize and found Partido Popular – a Mexican political party that fought to secure voting rights for women. Upon arriving in San Diego, Gracia worked as a teacher and mentor to Mexican American students in National City. She later co-founded IMPACT, a grassroots organization fighting for the civil rights of Mexican-Americans and taught Peace Corps recruits at San Diego State College. Having attained tenured professorship at San Diego Mesa College, she went on to developed a program that gave birth to the first Chicano Studies Department in the community. Later she would be a founding faculty member of what is now Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD. Gracia has earned numerous awards for her efforts including being inducted into the San Diego County’s Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
Today we should remember Caesar Chavez and his efforts, but let us also remember the efforts of these three women in their fight for the rights of Farm Workers and Mexican-Americans!