Legendary activist lays down law on civil rights
Latino Labor leader Dolores Huerta spoke of the implications of being a Latino female
October 1, 2013, 11:49 pm · Updated October 2, 2013, 12:21 am·
Amanda Suarez | DP
On the first day of October, Dolores Huerta — co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the United Farm Workers labor union — was welcomed to Penn to speak by La Casa Latina.
Huerta, who took her place at the podium as a clamorous standing ovation showered over her, delivered a passionate speech that revolved around the implications of being both a Latino worker and a Latina women.
“Why do people come to the U.S. to suffer? Why?” she asked. “Look in the mirror — it’s the U.S. foreign policy and corporations that put Latin America out of work.”
An imminent figure in her line of work, the activist felt right at home as she deliberately went back and forth between Spanish and English. Laughs echoed through Houston’s Hall of Flags as Huerta cracked the occasional joke, quipping that “if George Bush could run for office, then that should serve as inspiration for us.”
Not given to holding back her opinions, Huerta wasn’t shy about turning a critical eye on American racism. “Your grandparents were immigrants,” she said to the predominantly Latino audience. But “they’re not talking about the Canadians, they’re talking about us, the brown people.”
College freshman Daisy Romero was at once inspired and intrigued by Huerta’s ideology. “I didn’t know much about her before, so to find out that she started teaching farm workers for no money while taking care of seven children surprised me. It was also very interesting to find out her views on gay marriage and abortion are very liberal. I really liked her.”
A mother of 11 children, Huerta also discussed how women should have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. “Mom tells you not to wrestle with your brother. And then Walt Disney comes along to instill in women the idea that Prince Charming will come along,” she said. “He will give you a ‘besote’ and wake you up, and there goes school and there goes your career.”
However, she added, “Women need to be raised to be strong.” Then, she addressed the men in the crowd, saying “you can be feminists too … a feminist is someone who stands up for women and can also stand up for LGBT rights.”
College freshman Athena Becerra said she left the event just as excited as she had come into it.
“[Huerta] is the most humble, charismatic and inspirational woman I look up to,” Becerra added. “And the fact that as a proud Latina Chicana Mexicana, I could see my culture being celebrated with mariachi and a strong Latina figure in this Ivy League institution is not only empowering but also inspirational… We are all one race, just like Dolores Huerta said. We need to come together and celebrate that. Si se puede!”
At the end of her exciting talk, Huerta finally concluded with a question.
“Can we go out there and change the world?”