For more than 50 years, Dolores Huerta has worked to improve the lives of children, women, and farm workers. She believes that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
- Dolores was born in 1930 in New Mexico. Her parents divorced when she was three and her mother, Alicia Chavez, moved the family to Stockton, California, a diverse migrant farm area.
- Alicia was a strong, kind, gentle woman. She had a restaurant and a hotel with 70 rooms. She offered the rooms to migrant workers for low prices or sometimes even free. She stayed busy in the community and in her church.
- Dolores was very inspired by her mom. She wanted to be like her.
- She did well in school, but once a teacher wrongly accused her of stealing another student’s art. Dolores was hurt, especially because she felt the teacher accused her because she was Mexican American.
- Dolores went to college and got a teaching certificate. She taught elementary school, but left after just a short time. She said she was saddened and angry to see migrant children coming to school hungry and with no shoes. She decided she could do more for them by trying to help their parents than by teaching.
- She helped organize the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization with Fred Ross. She worked hard in this role, helping to improve economic conditions for Latinos.
- In 1960, she organized the Agricultural Workers Association with Cesar Chavez and later the National Farm Workers Association. At age 25, she was lobbying and organizing groups to fight for better conditions for farm workers.
- In 2002, she started the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which works on a variety of human rights issues. Her organization has raised thousands of dollars for things like new sewer systems and streetlights in poor communities.
- Dolores has received many awards and recognitions and at least four schools are named after her.
- Migrant: one who moves from place to place
- Economic: related to money
Questions and Answers
Question: What is so bad about farm workers’ conditions?
Answer: Farm workers had few rights. They were poorly paid and often lived in tiny, cold homes without even the basics like running water and electricity. Many farm workers slept on the floor. Their children lacked health care and education. Conditions are somewhat better today but we still have a long way to go.
Watch a video with Dolores Huerta.