Activist speaks at Delano Campus
March 18, 2009
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Mother of 11, 78-year-old activist Dolores Huerta continues to demand justice and social equality throughout the United States, and, on March 5, Huerta spoke in the Robert F. Kennedy High School Auditorium in front of children, students and professors.
Huerta was a guest speaker for the Women’s History Month, hosted by Bakersfield College Delano Campus. The title of her lecture was “Power of the Women in the 21st Century.”
In 1969, Huerta made plans for radical social change with her partner Cesar E. Chavez during the United Farm Workers strike in Delano. Though both shared an interest in farm workers’ rights, she did not consciously fight for the women. “A woman right now is getting beaten, raped or murdered,” said Huerta. “A man takes advantage of the female body.”
According to Huerta, women take up 50 percent of the U.S. population, they hold 17 percent in Congress and eight percent in the corporate world. Other countries in the world have more female representation, and the U.S. stands at number 70 when it comes to female representation. “Why has it taken 150 years to make change? Why? We need to think different. Solve problems different. Women’s voices are so important,” said Huerta. “We have to build up our leadership as women.” This is one of the reasons mentioned by Huerta as to why women are taught to be housewives: It’s because of the culture. “We as girls are taught not to get our little dress dirty, not to worry someone will protect you, someone will take care of you, someone will support you, and then Walt Disney comes along with his prince charming. Then the prince is gone, and people would be asking, ‘Where’s the baby’s daddy?'” said Huerta as she chuckled. The crowd laughed.
A feminist is a person who fights for civil rights, liberal rights, the clean environment, immigrant rights and women rights. But according to Huerta, a male can also become a feminist because of the shared ideas and connection with women. “We have to teach our brothers to cook, clean and be independent,” said Huerta. “Men and women should support each other. It’s going to take hard work, but we can accomplish it.”
As advice, women need to take care of themselves and protect themselves. Physically and psychologically, women must not let people dominate them.
Huerta was born in the town of Dawson, N.M., on April 10, 1930. After graduating from high school and attending University of Pacific’s Delta College, she married Ralph Head.
“I am a mother of 11 children,” said Huerta.
“A woman has the right to choose how many kids she wants. No legislature or president can tell you otherwise.”
As the co-founder of the U.F.W., Huerta mentioned immigrant rights and even gay rights. “We have no right to tell people whom they should love. We must follow the steps of opportunity.” As an individual, people must not look down on farm workers because they do the most sacred work for us.
Even though Huerta had activist ideas for farm workers, she eventually made her own women’s movement. She slowly became the president of her own organization called the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “We are the children of Africa. We are the human race,” said Huerta. “Viva Robert Kennedy! Viva Cesar Chavez! Viva los immigrantes! Viva la mujer!” (These words translate to this: “Hooray Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, immigrants and women.”)