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Dolores Huerta’s Courageous Life as an Organizer for Justice

May 2, 2023

In April, we celebrated Dolores Huerta’s 93rd birthday and recognized a labor organizer who became the most influential leader in the farm workers movement. To this day, she continues to spearhead the movement for immigrant and farm workers’ rights in California and the nation. 

Dolores began her career as a teacher, but she refused to follow school administrators’ lies and failure to address the root causes of starving students and made the difficult decision to leave her steady job – an incredibly difficult decision for a single mother – to become an organizer. 

Dolores Huerta has endlessly fought for the rights and progress of farm workers in California, including alongside Cesar Chavez as co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. She was key to securing early progress for the farm worker movement – winning contracts for workers that provided job stability for the first time, improving working conditions, and putting an end to child labor in California’s fields. These wins were possible through incredible and persistent organizing, solidarity among workers and the communities, and through Dolores’ skillful negotiation skills.

In the face of overt gender and ethnic bias and discrimination, Dolores led the farm worker movement for decades as an organizer and a lead negotiator. 

Dolores’s resume is impressive and extensive, and her influence has grown over time. She helped pass laws such as the California Agricultural Relations Act of 1975, which legalized farm workers’ ability to form unions to bargain for improved working conditions and wages. She has worked as a lobbyist to increase representation of workers in the legislative process, and has worked to elect more Latinos and women to office that shared values of the farm workers movement for justice. In 2002, Dolores Huerta was awarded the Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship for socially responsible leadership and courage. And in 2003, she founded The Dolores Huerta Foundation with the vision of inspiring more people of color to get involved in movement work to build power for the future. In 2021, Courage California featured her in “The Power of Courage,”  a conversation with Dolores Huerta, Nadya Okamoto, and Aria Sa’id.

Dolores has accomplished a lot in her 93 years and she has yet to slow down. Dolores travels up and down California and across the nation bringing light to injustices; immigrant, farm worker and labor experience and rights, and inspiring generations of leaders.

Dolores Huerta’s journey shows us that with courage, change is possible!