Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2644, designating April 10th as Dolores Huerta Day, which is her birthday. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (AD-47). Civil rights leader and community organizer, Dolores Huerta, is the first and only living person to hold this honor.
Dolores Huerta Day is not a state holiday. Instead, this day is designated day to recognize Dolores’s lifelong work as a civil rights activist and community organizer, her role as the co-founder and vice president of the United Farm Workers union, and her current work as president and founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The state law encourages schools to teach their students about Dolores Huerta and her life.
“I’m happy to hear that our young learners will have the opportunity to learn more about social justice and civil rights because there is still a lot of work to do. We have low-income communities with inequitable representation in local education. At the same time, they are facing tough anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric. This is all happening right in front of our faces. We need to continue organizing to empower communities so that they can fight for fair representation, voting rights, and an equitable education. This is how we are going to change the future for human rights and a fair and just society for all,” commented Dolores Huerta, President & Founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
“I believe this is a fitting recognition for someone who has dedicated her life to empowering others and perfectly timed to uplift communities who are struggling to hold onto their basic human rights,” added Camila Chávez, Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
Huerta’s influence is known throughout the nation. There are four elementary schools in California, one in Fort Worth, Texas, and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado named after Dolores Huerta. She was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in March of 2013. She has received numerous awards: among them The Eleanor Roosevelt Humans Rights Award from President Clinton in l998, Ms. Magazine’s One of the Three Most Important Women of l997, Ladies Home Journal’s 100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century, The Puffin Foundation’s Award for Creative Citizenship: Labor Leader Award 1984, The Kern County Woman of The Year Award from the California State Legislature, The Ohtli Award from the Mexican Government, The Smithsonian Institution – James Smithson Award, and Nine Honorary Doctorates from Universities throughout the United States. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Dolores with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
The Dolores Huerta Foundation was established in 2002. Huerta received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) for grassroots community organizing the following year. Camila Chavez, Dolores’ youngest daughter, has served as Executive Director of the DHF since its inception. Dolores Huerta, President, remains active with DHF as a full-time unpaid volunteer, and sees the work of the foundation as a continuation of the non-violent civil rights movement of the 1970’s.