As minorities started to populate the United States for better opportunities, xenophobia became prominent throughout America. The objective of the Chicano Rights Movement was to fight against the inequitable discrimination that afflicted Latinos. Accordingly, supporters who wished to eradicate discrimination started to join the movement. As the movement progressed, Latinos were empowered by such a movement and were eager to solve the problems, nonetheless a leader who was willing to grant a voice for the helpless immigrants was needed.
Dolores Huerta is one of the female voices who fought to solve the inadequate conditions the farm workers worked under. Huerta is a labor activist who advocated for the immigrant workers rights in the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, a movement which later resulted in the formation of a successful organization that fights to attain fair wages for immigrants, that led to the United Farm Workers Association. Huerta was born on April 10, 1930, in the northern part of New Mexico. Three children were conceived during the Fernandez’ short-term relationship. Like many relationships, their marriage was not prosperous, resulting in an annulment when Huerta was only three years old. Unsure of her future, Alicia moved to Stockland, California along with her children. As the only support system for her family, Alicia had difficulty finding a job, consequently, she had trouble to subsidizing her family due to her lack of income. However, with the help of her father, Huerta and her siblings were raised by her grandfather who became a father figure to them. Despite the adversities, it was an honest and loving household. After working in countless jobs, Alicia had saved enough money for her to buy a small hotel and a restaurant. Appropriately, Alicia was compassionate about the treatment of immigrants and the discrimination against them. The main focus of the hotel was to provide affordable accommodations for everyone. Through these acts, she encouraged her children to be involved within the community, to combat the misery immigrants faced. Alicia’s actions would contribute to embrace Huerta’s leadership which would later foreshadow the women Huerta was going to become.
During her school years, Huerta was always a bright student, she had a passion for writing and the literature world. In fact, while in an essay competition, Huerta attained second place in the nation. Due to her complex and well-written syntax, she was accused for plagiarizing one of her literature pieces because of its eloquence. Huerta’s professor unfairly accused her and gave her a terrible grade. Having faced discrimination, Huerta embraced the pacifist attitude that would later combat injustice that affected minorities. As a result of the marginalization Huerta faced from her teacher for being Latina, Huerta came to a realization that society needed to be modified.
Alicia’s impacted her children greatly, she inspired them to be involved in helping the community. As children, they were taught to be passionate and to fight for what is right. During this era, women expected to be submissive, while men studied and received their degrees, women were supposed to stay at home and do the chores, while taking care of the house. Nonetheless the non-conformist leader, Dolores Huerta broke the norms society set for women by attending the University of the Pacific Delta College where she received a teaching degree. While in college, Huerta fell deeply in love with Ralph Head, however, much like her mother, the marriage did not work out and led to a divorce. Celeste and Lori Head were the outcome of the ephemeral relationship between Huerta and Head.
While being a teacher in the 1950s, Huerta could not accept the idea of her students being consumed by famine that hindered them from excelling in school. She quit teaching and realized that a change had to be made. Huerta wanted to assist the students by helping their parents earn a reasonable amount of money in the fields that would sustain them and alleviate their children from the torment. Subsequently, in 1955, Huerta became an activist and now co-founder along with Frank Ross of the organization CSO in her hometown of Stockton. The CSO was created to acquire reasonable wages for Latinos working in the don’t forget work cited fields (“Dolores Huerta Foundation For Community Organization”). Additionally, the members wanted to bring change to the urban place and resolved any type of calamity.
While working hard to achieve her ultimate goal, Huerta was critiqued for her gender as well as her identity as a Latina. Thanks to an associate of the aforementioned company, Huerta met Cesar Chavez, an activist who shared the same aspirations and had just as much motivation to help his community. Since the organization prioritized the issues that affected the town, Chavez and Huerta had to renounce their positions at CSO because they wanted to reach their impact into a much larger domain than just an urban spectrum. In 1960 Huerta also established the Agricultural Workers Associations (AWA), wherein she opened voting drives that allowed immigrants workers to receive government benefits and pensions for their retirement, as well as demanding elections and driver licenses to be in Spanish. Not to mentioned that she also fought to improve the common ghettos known as “los barrios”, most established in LA; which grants Latinos a better life conditions.
Eventually, in 1962 Huerta and Chavez created their own organization, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA). This organization ensure workers rights and better working conditions for them as well. Chavez was the head and speaker of mentioned organization, whereas Huerta served as the organizer and the person who would debate with lobbyist in hopes of enhancing workers rights. The following three years, Huerta and Chavez inaugurated the United Farm Workers (UFW); similarly to the NFWA, the UFW also shared the same aspirations and ambitions (Dolores Huerta Facts). Similar the organization of Ghandi and Luther King, the UFW coped issues with solely nonviolent acts, to show pacifism and not cause chaos. One successful achievement between the organization and the owners of the farms was that workers were given restroom and other facilities that granted sanitary conditions. Workers were also given free clean water and adequate clothing for the protection of pesticide, and sun exposure. Another right given to workers granted by union was that they ensured and secured the job if they had been working there for years. If workers would hurt themselves in the job, landowners would compensate such misfortune. Moreover, the abolition of sexual harassment that would affect female workers was gone within the working space. Women were taken advantage of because they were seen have always been belittled and oppressed by men and also they were objectified by men. Not to mentioned that they were threatened to lose their job if they would speak up, and, therefore, they would not have enough money to provide for their family.
As the co-founder of the organization, Huerta spent nearly three decades combating against the unreasonable wages workers received, and most importantly, their working conditions that they were put under. Despite mentioned accomplishments, Huerta wanted to accomplish more; she wanted to reach a bigger spectrum that would benefit the immigrant workers. Her most prominent and influential march was the Delano Grape Strike, organized in the late 1960s. The main goal of the protest was to boycott grapes to improve working conditions. During the Delano Grape Strike March, thousands of immigrant Mexicans and Filipino Americans workers gathered, determined to fight through the iniquity behaviors that afflicted them. Eager to alternate the norms, Huerta Boycott peacefully, against the condescending farm owners along with Cesar Chavez and Filipino Americans. The walkout took place in the same day as the Mexican Independence Day, September 16, 1965. A phenomenon whereby the lives of minorities would change drastically. “The strike drew unprecedented support from outside the Central Valley, from other unions, church activists, students, Latinos and other minorities, and civil rights groups” (Inga, “The 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott”) . It is found that many samaritans joined the cause to bring equality. The 300-mile march started from Delano to Sacramento. Perseverance and faith accompanied the souls of the congregation. By joining the movement, they knew that it was risky and had to assume their consequences for the disturbance of peace. After two years fighting against the system, few strikers lost hope and were impatient. Unethical ideas radicate their brains, wanting to fight with aggression rather than with peace. Cesar and Huerta disapproved with the ideas and did not condemn such behavior. During the time, millions of Americans stopped consuming and buying grapes all for the sake of improving working conditions. With the decreasing of consumption of grapes, farm owners realized that it was time to make a change and finally listen to the complaints. Grape owners later came together to negotiate and resolve the conflict with the Union. It was signed that farm owners granted better wages, benefits, and protections. Although these accomplishments can be found as very little changes, it is crucial to approach and resolve the micro issues that afflicts the nation, and then consequently strive to solve the macro problems. Though the changes that were made were not seen as profound to some individuals, they made some people assess the hard-work that is put to bring the nourishment that is found on one’s house. Although these inequities took place in the past, they are also prevalent in today’s modern world. From the unfair work wages to the dreadful working conditions, all around the workers atmosphere was all in all ridiculous. In a sense that farm owners did not have any empathy towards workers’ emotions and reactions towards the working conditions. Farm owners were egocentric and had absolutely no understanding of what what workers were put under, they are greedy and only wished wealth. Thankfully, with the Civil Rights Movement, there were people who were willing to take the first step into changing object the norms that affected their community. Similarly after combating for decades against the greedy farm owners, Huerta fought the odds and was able to win the battle.
From improving working conditions to advocating and granting a voice for women who were assaulted by their own boss, Huerta made a great impact for the youth. Huerta’s impact on Americans’ lives made them change their perspective on certain subjects such that of race and discrimination and the prejudice. She fought against the current to motivate and influence others to be non-conformist and stand up for what one thinks is right and wrong. The Latino youth is greatly influenced by her actions, and now they take action for what they believe it is wrong. Not only did Huerta influenced Latinos, but also any other group who feels as though they are targeted. The Non-Conformist leader, Dolores Huerta, was able to establish reassurement for other minorities and fight against the xenophobia.