At age 87, political activist Dolores Huerta is getting some long-overdue recognition for the central role she's played for years in the farmworker movement. It's a role well worth celebrating.
The documentary film Dolores, produced by director Peter Bratt, is now in theaters. The film puts Huerta's decades of organizing front and center where it should be, rather than portraying her as a "sidekick" of Cesar Chavez, as too many narratives have.
We learn, for example, that it was actually Huerta that coined the phrase Si se puede!, which has long been the rallying cry for the farmworker movement. The English translation also became the slogan for President Obama's presidential campaign in 2008; he rightly acknowledged this when he awarded Huerta the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Fighting for farmworkers
Though it's not highlighted in the movie, Huerta has long been concerned about the impacts of pesticides on farmworkers, particularly women and children. As she noted in a recent interview:
The pesticides in the fields really affect women even more than they do men. They affect children...we have had so many women that have cancer, so many children have been born with deformities."
She's also an active supporter of PAN's current campaign to remove the brain-harming pesticide chlorpyrifos from the market, in California and across the country.
Huerta's life story has been about making change through tenacious political organizing, and the Dolores movie provides welcome inspiration at a time when it is sorely needed. As PAN Senior Scientist and longtime farmworker rights advocate Margaret Reeves notes:
Along with the many brothers and sisters with whom she works, Dolores was, and still is, the heart and soul of the farmworker movement — in California and beyond.