Dolores Huerta

Rebel, Activist, Feminist, Mother

Meet  Dolores

Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement.  At 89, Dolores Huerta continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children. As founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she travels across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights. She often speaks to students and organizations about issues of social justice and public policy.

The recipient of many honors, Huerta received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in 1998 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. As of 2015, she was a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, and the President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

Founder, Organizer and Activist

Dolores Foundation Programs

Civic Engagement, Education Policy, Geographic Information Systems,
Youth Program and Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors).

The Dolores Huerta Foundation provides organizing training and resources to rural, low income, communities. Our community organizing model engages residents in a process of determining and prioritizing their community needs, trains them to speak directly with organizational leaders and public officials, and provides them with a platform to advocate for desired changes. Our active base calls themselves the Vecinos Unidos (United Neighbors).

In partnership with the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, the DHF is currently launching the Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative to increase civic participation among low-income, disenfranchised youth and their families to reduce racial and socio-economic disparities.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation’s focus within the education program is on organizing, training, and empowering parents to advocate for the rights of their students, including advocacy for lower suspensions, expulsions, and involuntary transfers, which are currently perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline.

The number of youth and community members actively engaging their elected officials on local governing boards and school districts has increased dramatically.  Since 2016, DHF has expanded its scope and reach of voters, community members, elected officials, and the general public.

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An Organizer is Born

Dolores found her calling as an organizer while serving in the leadership of the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO). During this time, she founded the Agricultural Workers Association, set up voter registration drives and pressed local governments for barrio improvements. In 1955 CSO founder Fred Ross, Sr. introduced her to CSO Executive Director César E. Chávez, a likeminded colleague. The two soon discovered that they shared a common vision of organizing farm workers, an idea that was not in line with the CSO’s mission.

As a result, César and Dolores resigned from the CSO, and launched the National Farm Workers Association in the spring of 1962. Dolores’ organizing skills were essential to the growth of this budding organization.

The first testament to her lobbying and negotiating talents were demonstrated in securing Aid For Dependent Families (“AFDC”) and disability insurance for farm workers in the State of California in 1963, an unparalleled feat at the time. She was also instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. This was the first law of its kind in the United States, granting farm workers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.

While the farm workers lacked financial capitol, they were able to wield significant economic power through hugely successful boycotts at the ballot box with grassroots campaigning. As the principal legislative advocate, Dolores became one of the UFW’s most visible spokespersons.

Dolores Huerta will be speaking at the iLumn8 Summit: Imagining in Action