November 19, 2022

Dolores Huerta: An American Identity

Dolores Huerta is a woman of many firsts; she was one of the first few women to join the National Farmworkers Association, she co-founded the United Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (UAWOC), and most famously, helped lead what would become known as The Delano Grape Strike. This article will explore her life through an exploration of her family’s history; it’ll also highlight some key moments in which Huerta became involved with activism.

Dolores Huerta was born in Dawson, New Mexico on April 10th, 1930. Both of her parents were strong advocates for the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). Her mother was a teacher and social worker who became involved with activism after she moved to San Jose with her husband. There, she became an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO), which provided voter registration services to help disenfranchised Latinos. Huerta’s father was also involved with local activism, founding a local chapter of the CSO.

Huerta first became involved in activism herself when she accompanied her mother on an assignment at the Filipino migrant community, where she assisted farmworkers with voter registration. Soon after, she joined the CSO herself. She became a paid organizer for them in 1958 before leaving to co-found UAWOC with Cesar Chavez in 1962.

“I had never seen anything so bad as what I saw among farmworkers. Children were being exploited.” –Dolores Huerta

During the 1950s, Huerta became involved with the CSO after she accompanied her mother on an assignment in Sacramento. There, she helped register Latino voters and learned about farmworker struggles. She helped organize larger protests to advocate for migrant farmworkers rights, like one that protested growers’ use of braceros (temporary Mexican workers brought to the US by the government).

In 1962, Huerta and Cesar Chavez co-founded the United Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (UAWOC). They worked together on advocating for fairer wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Two years later, they would unite with other labor organizations to form what is now known as the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), an organization they continue to work for today. In 1965, the UFW helped organize a two-month long farmworker strike in Delano, California. The UFW would go on to lead boycotts and strikes including a national boycott of table grapes from 1965-1970.

In 1966, Huerta became acting director of UFWOC after Cesar Chavez left to mobilize farmworkers in Delano. While Chavez was gone, Huerta would be responsible for leading protests and advocating on behalf of the farmworkers.

“I think it’s important that young people realize the contributions Mexican-Americans have made…and are making.” –Dolores Huerta

In an interview, she spoke to the work which still needs to be done and how her children and grandchildren help to continue the fight. “I think it’s important that young people realize the contributions Mexican-Americans have made…and are making”. Huerta continues working to this day; over 50 years later, she