By Camila Angeles
Dolores, a documentary about the life of activist Dolores Huerta, was featured last night at UCSB’s Multicultural Center. Alongside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers and has spent her life fighting for the rights of farmworkers and women. Although Dolores is a hero to the community of farmworkers, she is not as widely known as other activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and her UFW co-founder, Cesar Chavez. Dolores has brought courage and inspiration to people everywhere with her iconic saying, “Si, Se Puede!”
Despite being a mother of 11, Dolores thought that in order to be able to help others, you have to live like them. Dolores and her children lived in the same harsh and harmful conditions as the farmworkers, and spent most of her time traveling to all the farmworking communities such as Delano, California to listen to their needs as farmworkers.
In 1965, Dolores directed the UFW’s national boycott during the Delano grape strike. Started by the Filipino farmworkers, people began walking out of the fields, and demanded wages equal to the federal minimum wage. One week after the strike began, the National Farmworkers Association joined the strike led by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez. After months of fighting, Dolores did what seemed impossible, and negotiated a contract with the employers to make sure that the farm workers got fair wages.
On March 17, 1966, Cesar Chavez and many other farmworkers embarked on a journey from Delano to California’s capital, Sacramento. The walk was to pressure the employers and the state government to answer the demands of the farmworkers. The farmworkers tried to get the attention of politicians, and demanded that they begin to treat the farm workers fairly. The farm workers were working in inhumane conditions. During their work, they were often sprayed with deadly pesticides that caused cancer and caused children to be born with birth defects such as missing limbs.
At these protests, the farmworkers were beaten and arrested by the police. Some were even beaten to death, which caused uproar all over the nation. At a protest, and at the age of 58, Dolores was beaten by a police. She was beat so badly with a police baton, that she was taken to the hospital with broken ribs and other injuries. This only caused more outrage across the nation, and more people began to take action in support of Dolores.
Dolores Huerta is an inspiration to all, and at the age of 87 years old, she continues to fight for the rights of people.