Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dolores Huerta?

 Dolores Huerta

Dolores Huerta is a labor leader and community organizer. She has worked for civil rights and social justice for over 50 years. In 1962, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez and founded the United Farm Workers union. She served as Vice President and played a critical role in many of the union’s accomplishments for four decades. She was the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, in 1993. In 2002, she received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF). She has received numerous awards: among them The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998. In 2012 President Obama bestowed Dolores with The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. For more information, visit “About Dolores Huerta”.

Where is Dolores Huerta from?

Huerta was born on April 10, 1930, in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico. She is the only daughter of Juan Fernández and Alicia Chávez. Her parents divorced when she was three and her mother, Alicia Chávez. At the age of seven, Alicia Chávez moved the family to Stockton, California.

Who are Dolores Huerta's Parents?

Alicia Chávez was a strong, compassionate business woman that was active in community affairs, numerous civic organizations, She had a restaurant then opened a hotel with 70 rooms. She often helped people who needed shelter. Alicia encouraged the cultural diversity that was a natural part of Dolores’ upbringing in Stockton. Alicia Chávez’s community activism was reflected in Dolores’ involvement as a student at Stockton High School.

Juan Fernández was born in Dawson, New Mexico, a small mining town, to a Mexican immigrant family and worked as a coal miner. Later, he joined the migrant labor force, and harvested beets in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming. When Huerta was a child she moved to Stockton, California, with her mother and siblings after her parents’ divorce. She remained in touch with her father, Juan Fernández, and took pride in his personal and professional development from coal miner to migrant laborer to union activist to an elected representative in the New Mexico state legislature to college graduate. and eventually earning a college degree.

What is Dolores Huerta's educational background?

In high school, Dolores’ was active in numerous school clubs, was a majorette, and a dedicated member of the Girl Scouts until the age of 18. Upon graduating Dolores continued her education at the University of Pacific’s Delta College in Stockton earning a provisional teaching credential.

Who inspired Dolores Huerta to start organizing?

Fred Ross Jr. and Dolores Huerta

 

Dolores Huerta was inspired greatly by her compassionate and selfless mother, Alicia Chavez, who was very involved in charity work through the church, As a young girl she was greatly influenced by the guidance of her Girl Scout leader, Kathryn Kemp. She learned courage, confidence, basic survival skills, respect for nature, and developed leadership skills focused on making the world a better place. As a novice organizer, she was inspired by the organizing strategies and principles of Fred Ross Sr. Who she often refers to as the, “Gringo Godfather of the Farmworkers Movement!” Today, Ms. Huerta is fueled by the young activists of tomorrow. She is inspired by their fearlessness, motivation, determination and unwavering commitment to social justice.

How many times has Dolores Huerta been arrested?

As an advocate for human rights, Huerta has been arrested more than 25 times for participating in non-violent civil disobedience activities and strikes. In 1988, at age 58 Dolores suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. A baton-wielding San Francisco SWAT police officer broke four ribs and shattered her spleen. In a lawsuit against SFPD was forced to change their crowd control tactics.

How did Dolores Huerta coin the phrase "!Sí, se puede!”?

During  Cesar Chavez’s 25-day fast in 1972 in Phoenix, Arizona, UFW’s co-founder Dolores Huerta used the slogan “!Sí, se puede!” (Yes, we can!) The workers complained that what was possible in California couldn’t be done in Arizona. Dolores responded with “Si Se Puede en Arizona” Since then this has been an influential rally cry and guiding principle that has served to inspire. The phrase is a federally registered trademark of the UFW. The phrase has been widely adopted by other movements and campaigns. It even made its way to the White House. President Obama thanked Dolores for letting him borrow his campaign slogan “Yes We Can!”

What inspired Dolores Huerta to organize and pursue social justice?

While teaching, she could no longer bear to see her students come to school with empty stomachs and bare feet. After persistent efforts to provide them relief were unsupported by her administrators, she realized there was little she could do within the education system., Thus began her lifelong journey of working to fight for economic justice. Dolores Huerta decided to aid the children in her class by helping their farmworker parents win more equitable working conditions.

How did Dolores Huerta meet Cesar Chavez?

Dolores Huerta was introduced to like-minded colleague Cesar Chavez by Fred Ross when she was organizing with the  Community Service Organization (CSO). She and Cesar Chavez organized the National Farm Workers Association which became the United Farm Workers of America. Together, they organized farmworkers to fight for better working conditions.

 

What did Dolores Huerta lobby for while working at CSO? / What did Dolores Huerta accomplish while there?

In 1955, Huerta helped Fred Ross start the Stockton Chapter of CSO, which fought for economic improvements for Latinos. At the age of only 25, Huerta was a lobbyist in Sacramento, California in support of a progressive legislation for old-age pensions for noncitizens, securing the right to register voters, and disability insurance for farmworkers.

 

When was the United Farm Workers Association founded?

By 1962 Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez cofounded the National Farm Workers Association. The UFW continues organizing in major agricultural sectors, chiefly in California. Recent years have witnessed dozens of UFW union contract victories protecting thousands of farm workers, among them agreements with some of the largest berry, winery, tomato, dairy and mushroom companies in California and the nation. For more information, visit: https://ufw.org/

 

What did Dolores Huerta lobby for while working at UFW? / What did Dolores Huerta accomplish while there?

In the 1980s Huerta co-founded the UFW’s radio station and continued to speak and raise funds on behalf of a variety of causes, including immigration policy and farm labourers’ health. From 1988 to 1993, Huerta served on the U.S. Commission on Agricultural Workers, established by Congress to evaluate special worker provisions and labour markets in the agriculture industry. Huerta’s active engagement in lobbying for laws to improve the lives of farm lead to the following:

 

 

What was Dolores Huerta’s pivoting role in the Delano Grape Boycott?

In 1965, Huerta directed the UFW’s national boycott during the Delano grape strike, taking the plight of the farm workers to the consumers. She led the organization of boycotts advocating for consumer rights. The boycott resulted in the entire California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers in 1970. As coordinator of nationwide boycotts, Huerta helped lead the passage in 1975 of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the first law recognizing the rights of California farmworkers to bargain collectively.

 

When was the Dolores Huerta Foundation founded?

In 2002, Dolores Huerta established the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which works on a variety of human rights and social issues. DHF inspires and organizes communities to build volunteer organizations empowered to pursue social justice.

 

What programs does the DHF offer?

Education Policy Program

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. In addition to advocating for the above LCAP recommendations, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the KEJC are involved in the following efforts: Grassroots Mobilization, Advocacy, Parent Trainings, and LCAP Advocacy.

 

Youth and Family Civic Engagement Initiative (YFCEI)

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. Through evidence-based best practices, the YFCE Initiative trains youth and family members for meaningful leadership roles and civic participation.

 

Vecinos Unidos Chapters

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). Currently, the Dolores Huerta Foundation has 13 Chapters: Antelope Valley, Arvin, Bakersfield, California City, Caruthers, Greenfield, Mojave, Lamont, Lindsay, Parlier, Sanger, Tulare and Woodlake. For more information, visit: LINK

 

Geographic Information System (GIS) Department

GIS software is used to inform strategic decisions for voter targeting and outreach. GIS mapping makes data visible and easy to comprehend the social inequities in Central Valley communities. 

DHF will continue to integrate GIS mapping and data applications into the organization’s technological infrastructure to use data and mapping to equip and enhance DHF’s organizing and civic engagement efforts such as integrative voter education, as well as implement outreach campaigns in low response areas for the 2020 Census. For more information, visit: LINK

 

Civic Engagement

The Dolores Huerta Foundation provides civic engagement training and opportunities to raise awareness and lobby for progressive policies and reforms. While developing natural leaders, through canvassing, tabling, and phone banking, the civic engagement department attains social justice through systemic and structural transformation. Currently, the Dolores Huerta Foundation is committed to 5 separate campaigns: 2020 Census, GOTV, End Child Poverty California, Schools and Communities First and Give Big Kern. For more information, visit: LINK

 

How can I have Dolores Huerta or a representative of the DHF speak at my event or rally?

To request the participation of Dolores Huerta, or another person affiliated with the Dolores Huerta Foundation, at an event please use the following link to complete the Event Request Form.

 

As a member of the press or media, how can I interview Dolores Huerta or a representative of the DHF?

For media requests for Dolores Huerta and/or others affiliated with the Dolores Huerta Foundation please complete the Media Interview Request Form.

 

Can Dolores Huerta or the Foundation provide me with a letter of support or recommendation?

Please send your request to sisepuede@doloreshuerta.org or Dolores Huerta Foundation P.O. Box 2087 Bakersfield, CA 93303. Be sure to include

  • Include ATTN: Name, Address, Email & Phone Number
  • Include personal bio / background
  • Letter format type
  • Preferred sending method (fax, email, postal mail)