Dolores Huerta (1930-present) - labor leader | civil rights activist

Sahl, Ted, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sahl, Ted, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Dolores Huerta is an American labor leader and civil rights activist. She co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962. Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in California in 1965 and was the lead negotiator in the workers' contract after the strike. She has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for the rights of workers, immigrants and women, including the the United  Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Huerta was the first woman of Latin descent to be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. She is the originator of the phrase, "Sí, se puede".

 Quotes

“Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.” 

“The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today. The civil rights movement, the labor movement, the women's movement, and the equality movement for our LGBT brothers and sisters are all manifestations of these rights.”

“That's the history of the world. His story is told, hers isn't.” ~Delores Huerta

“Every single day we sit down to eat, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and at our table we have food that was planted, picked, or harvested by a farm worker. Why is it that the people who do the most sacred work in our nation are the most oppressed, the most exploited?” 

 Books

Sowards, S. (2019). Sí, Ella Puede!: The Rhetorical Legacy of Dolores Huerta and the United Farm Workers.

Brill, M. (2018). Dolores Huerta Stands Strong: The Woman Who Demanded Justice (Biographies for Young Readers).

Rae Johnson - Artist Statement

It is an honor to offer a portrait of Dolores Huerta: lifelong  activist, organizer, and advocate for laborers, women, immigrants, and the natural world. Dolores promotes nonviolence as a "very strong spiritual force " that can be used to amplify unheard voices, promote teamwork, and help people care for each other. She used a megaphone to lift her message of empowerment  to large crowds, but  she also lobbied directly with lawmakers to demand action in support of the most basic of human rights. 

Across the miles, the voice and movement of Dolores Huerta have reached many hearts. She has been an inspiration for me in my work as a public health RN with the underserved in the nation's capital. As an artist, I also hope to transmit the message that people and planet should be valued more highly than profit. 

The beauty of printmaking ¾not unlike organizing¾ is that it allows for a process that includes opportunities  for risk , failure, and some wonderful surprises. The residue of all the work that led up to the final piece lays a foundation that is often hard to see. Carving the lines into Dolores face felt risky. I felt I was  tracing the years of sacrifices she made at her own physical and emotional expense: the ribs broken by police at demonstrations, the time lost with her 11 children while she travelled and organized. 

I chose bright colors to reflect the vibrant textiles she wears often and the many cultures that comprise the fabric of the people she represents. The arch and crown over her head are a theme I have used in previous prints honoring a pantheon of resilient women. “¡Sí, Se Puede!”¾ meaning "Yes we can!" ¾   is a phrase that she coined. It is now a familiar rallying cry of empowerment , optimism, and a sense of justice. Barack Obama borrowed the phrase for his own presidential campaign in 2008. 

Last year, Huerta celebrated her 91st birthday with a party and fundraiser for her Peace and Justice Center. There, she commented that when she was first organizing farm workers, “they compared me to a hummingbird, a “colibrí” who puts a little motion here, then over there, to get people involved...come off the sidewalks and get into the street. That’s what  we need to do as colibrí." 

It is my hope that people will see this piece and resonate with the voice and heart of Dolores who calls us all to believe in the power of  ¡Sí, Se Puede!”

Dolores Huerta: ¡Si, Se Puede!

Dolores Huerta: ¡Si, Se Puede!

Women Who Walked on Water

Joy Zimmerman

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Women Who Walked on Water (3:21) – mid-tempo with soulful vocals, rhythmic guitars, and lilting fiddle. A song of tribute to seventeen courageous women who changed the world.

Music & Lyrics by Joy Zimmerman

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