The third Women’s History Month highlight is Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta, born on April 10, 1930, in Dawson, New Mexico.
Huerta was influenced at an early age by her mother, Alicia Chavez who owned a restaurant and 70-room hotel. Chavez welcomed low-wage workers and farmworker families at affordable prices and often provided them with free housing. After becoming an elementary teacher she stated, “I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children”.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Huerta founded the Agricultural Workers Association, set up voter registration drives, and pressed local governments for barrior (“neighborhood”) improvements. She eventually resigned and started the National Farm Workers Association. Huerta secured welfare and disability insurance for farm workers in California in 1963. She also played a vital role in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 which granted farm workers in California the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.
In the 1980s, she turned her focus on women’s rights. She traveled the country for two years encouraging Latinx individuals to run for office. The campaign resulted in an increase in the number of women representatives at the local, state, and federal levels.
Huerta founded the Doleres Huerta Foundation in 2002. The primary purpose of the foundation is to weave in movements such as “women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, labor rights, and civil rights” into an individual thread. Huerta continues to work to develop leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children. She teaches thousands of working poor in San Joaquin Valley of California the laws and agencies that can protect and benefit them.