Dakia Davis wrote up this report after she heard and met labor leader and civil rights activist Delores Huerta twice in September 2007 when she was a student in Greensboro. She submitted it to Raleigh NOW in Oct 2007.
September 26, 2007
Extra Credit: Dolores Huerta
I had the opportunity to attend two events featuring labor leader and civil rights activist Delores Huerta. First, at an event hosted by the UNCG Office of Multicultural Affairs (9/20/07) and again at the “From Campus to Congress: Women of Color Creating Change” conference held at Bennett College for Women (9/22/07)
Mrs. Huerta feels that current human rights issues such as education and incarceration would spark a “new” civil rights movement in the United States. She also feel that recent immigration debates and incidences such as the Jena Six would add to people’s growing passion for social justice.
Concerned for the treatment and education of prisoners, she spoke out against the prison industrial complex, and money made from cheap prison labor. She believes that there is discrimination (race and class) involved in sentencing procedures. Various institutional and social funnels certain people into prison while others protect the wealthy from harsh criminal charges.
Dolores Huerta is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, which she founded with César Chávez. This labor union was founded in 1962 to help agricultural workers gain more protection under the law. Today, she still champions for the rights of others around the world. When talking about worker’s rights and immigration, she spoke against NAFTA.
Labor condition and worker rights are two of Mrs. Huerta’s primary interests. She also spoke of feminism, another area that she been actively involved in. She believes that all oppressions are connected and that “no one is free from injustice unless we all are.” A Catholic mother of 11 children, she is pro-choice and supports gay marriage.
Something that I found interesting was Mrs. Huerta’s feelings on women in power, “Women are socialized contrary to other members of the animal kingdom.” She said that in the animal world, the females are fiercer and their roles include gatherer, protector, nurturer, and fighter. She says that women are “culturalized to be vulnerable,” and “we have to change the way we educate our women.” She is a Hillary Clinton supporter and encouraged others to vote for a women in the 2008 elections. She said that because of the “natural” instincts of women to protect was is dearest to them (children, family, etc.), they make excellent leaders. “A true ‘macho’,” she says, “supports women and think of his mother, his sister…men can be feminists.” A feminist according to her supports civil rights, worker’s rights, reproductive rights, gay rights, the environment and more.
In closing, Ms. Huerta recommended the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins for people interested in learning about the United States and it’s involvement in underdeveloped countries, war, etc.
At both events, she taught audience members, “si se puede,” which means “yes we can” in Spanish. The audience then participated in chanting “si se puede” and “viva…” (long live). She left us with her final words, “our education has got to be one of human rights ad human consciousness.”
Dakia Davis, Delores Huerta, Rebecca Mann, Sept 2007
Photo Credit: Dakia Davis