Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
National labor activist and cofounder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, Dolores Huerta, made two significant visits to her hometown this past week: to her alma mater, the University of the Pacific, and to the San Joaquin Delta College.
On her presentation to students of both institutions, Huerta noted the absurdness of plans to change the U.S. Constitution to strip babies of the right to be U.S. citizens when born to undocumented parents. Some want to forget we are a country of immigrants, remarked Huerta, because “unless you are a pureblood Native American, we all came from somewhere else.” She rebuked the “get citizenship” and “lawful immigration process” arguments reminding the audience it may take up to two years for a European to immigrate legally, yet the wait for a Mexican is around twelve years.
She directed attention to the economy and the current recession, wondering how such a rich country like the United States could be in such bad of a shape. “Countries like Norway enjoy a surplus,” she said, “but they own their oil.” Huerta noted the United States is the only developed country that does not own its natural resources, thus at the whim of private interests.
Huerta reminded female attendees of their role in society and their lack of participation in politics, saying that “the United States places #71 when it comes to government women’s participation.” She cited (women’s) lack of self confidence but talked about power in numbers. “When we started organizing farm workers in the 1950s, experienced organizers said you couldn’t because they do not have a will to own themselves,” said Huerta. “We did —we told them they were powerful, not one by one, but collectively and united.”
She insisted that the only way we can change the status quo is by the power of the vote. Huerta challenged her audiences not to just vote this November, but to encourage others to register and vote as well.
- Celebrating Black and Brown Labor Leaders (race.change.org)
- Labor Legend Dolores Huerta Rips SEIU For Worker Intimidation (huffingtonpost.com)
- Dolores Huerta: An Open Letter to SEIU President Mary Kay Henry (huffingtonpost.com)