The inspiring feminist and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930 in New Mexico. After her parents’ divorce, Huerta moved with her mother and siblings to Stockton, California, where she grew up in an ethnically diverse community of working class families. Huerta went on to receive her provisional teaching degree from the University of the Pacific’s Delta College and began teaching the children of farm workers in her community. After seeing her students repeatedly come to class hungry and without shoes, Huerta left her position as a teacher and began her work as an activist to improve the lives of farm worker families. Huerta occupied a leadership position on the Stockton Community Service Organization where she founded the Agricultural Workers Association, organized voter registration drives, and pushed local governments for barrio improvements. In 1955, Huerta met César Chávez and together they founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1962. Huerta’s skills as an organizer and negotiator were crucial to the success of the NFWA. As part of the NFWA, Huerta was arrested 22 times for non-violent civil disobedience and strikes. She was instrumental in getting the Aid for Dependent Families program passed, securing disability insurance for farm workers in California, and establishing the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, a watershed piece of legislation which granted farm workers in California the right to unionize for better wages and working conditions. In addition to farm workers’ rights, Huerta also threw herself into the fight for gender equality. Huerta worked on the ‘Feminist Majority’s Feminization of Power: 50/50 by the Year 2000’ campaign, which caused a notable increase in the number of local, state, and federal female government representatives. In 2003, Huerta founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a grassroots community organization that strives towards equality and the protection of civil rights. To this day, 89-year-old Huerta continues to organize legislation and campaigns through the Dolores Huerta Foundation that improve the lives of current and future vulnerable populations in California.
To learn more about some amazing Californian women of color, please come by the Women’s Museum of California gift shop to purchase one of our books, including this outstandingly interesting and informative work: Chicana Tributes: Activist Women of the Civil Rights Movement.
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