Things That Matter

Dolores Huerta The Latina Freedom Fighter Who Taught Us ‘Sí Se Puede’ Has Been Arrested Over 20 Times

If you are a Latino in the United States you probably have heard the name Dolores Huerta, or that of her political partner Cesar Chavez. These two authentic dynamos revolutionized the way in which migrant workers are treated. With Chavez, Huerta founded the National Farmworkers Association (now United Farm Workers or UFW). At age 89, she is still a civil rights activist and labor leader, and she, of course, is a fierce advocate for women’s rights. She is a true legend whose story should be taught in every classroom.

These are some facts about her amazing and impactful life!

1. Her full name is…

Credit: 00-tout-dolores-huerta-documentary. Digital image. Vogue

Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta and she was born on born April 10, 1930. She was born in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico, which helped shape her political ideals.

2. Her grandparents were Mexican migrants

Credit: 5vHNzSp-asset-mezzanine-16×9-ZTFP9TH. Digital image. PBS

Her parents were Juan Fernández and Alicia Chávez. Juan was the son of Mexican migrants and worked as a coal miner in Dawson. He later worked with braceros (Mexican workers who went to the United States on a special visa to join the labor force) in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

3. Her father’s stories made her think about the work that unions do for worker’s rights

Credit: -2—dolores-huerta-at-the-delano-strike-in-1966.-photo-by-jon-lewis-courtesy-of-leroy-chatfield_wide-a37548891c2b4691a1ffb4bd894bedc2e08aaa1b-s800-c85.jpg. Digital image. NPR

As often happens, political ideas tend to travel from generation to generation. Hearing her father’s stories, Dolores got in touch with the idea of unions, which in the case of Mexican and Mexican-American workers were used as a force against injustice. Her parents divorced and her father was a state legislator.

4. She was raised by her mom in a farming community

Credit: 26556_delores_huertafield.rev.1515427621. Digital image.  Southwestern University

A big part of Dolores’ political ideals has to do with farm work and what manual labor is truly worth. This is an echo of her childhood in Stockton, California, where she was raised by her mother. Her mom was a pillar of the community, a generous spirit for whom paisanos were family.

5. The family owned a hotel and a restaurant

Credit: 170830-dolores-huerta-ew-112p_e3246977529eb2c716c629787e818748.fit-760w. Digital image. NBC News

And Dolores’ mom would often give discounts or even free accommodation to struggling workers. She certainly led by example, and her impact was multiplied once Dolores found her political voice

6. She started her life as an activist when she was in high school

Credit: 20180329_30TCADOLw-1. Digital image. Longmont Times Call

When she was at the Stockton High School she was a majorette and member of numerous clubs.

7. A teacher graded her unfairly in high school, she considered it was racial bias

Credit: BC-NM-Dolores-Huerta-Birthplace-IMG-630×420. Digital image. Albuquerque Journal

She knew right there and then that she needed to fight for her rights and the rights of minorities. She got herself a teaching credential, and taught primary school, until…

8. She left her job as a teacher and became an activist, having witnessed injustices suffered by her students

Credit: BHR2U4GOPNFQNAEAXBV3YUW7GM. Digital image. The Lily

She is quoted as saying: “I couldn’t tolerate seeing kids come to class hungry and needing shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than by trying to teach their hungry children”. Respect, sometimes change needs to start in the household and the field, rather than in the classroom, and Dolores identified that.

9. 1955: the year she started changing the world

Credit: cesar-chavez-dolores-huerta-2. Digital image. Bahai Teachings

In 1955 Huerta helped activist Fred Ross kick off the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization. She soon proved to be a force to be reckoned with. She soon took charge of the Stockton Chapter. In 1960 she co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association and in 1962 she got together with Cesar Chavez to found the National Farm Workers Association, which changed the lives of thousands of field workers and their families.

10. She was a master negotiator

Credit: dh204. Digital image.CBS News

It was not easy in the 1960s to negotiate as a woman, let alone a woman of color. But that is just what she did in 1966, negotiating a contract between grape pickers and the Schenley Wine Company. It was the first time that farm workers argued for their rights with an agricultural business. Eso, chingaos!

11. She also organized the now famous Delano grape strike in 1965

Credit: dolores-huerta-188850-1-402. Digital image.Famous Biographies

California is one of the largest producers of table grapes not only in the United States, but the entire world. Well, Huerta led a boycott against the grape industry to achieve collective bargaining, which was signed in 1970. Huerta was able to communicate the plight of farmers to consumers, also a first in American activism.

12. She has worked as a lobbyist for life-changing laws that have improved the lives of workers

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If you or a family member have taken the California driver’s test in Spanish, for example, you have Huerta to thank for. Laws like this have made California a much more inclusive society.

13. She has been arrested over 20 times

Credit: DxEy6z3VYAQLiNu Twitter. Digital image. Dolores Huerta

This is a result, of course, of her activism. These arrests have been the product of civil disobedience non-violent acts such as boycotts or strikes!

14. She is still an active political activist

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She serves in the boards of various progressive organizations, such as People for the American Way, Consumer Federation of California, and Feminist Majority Foundation.

15. She witnessed a major political assassination: Robert F. Kennedy’s 

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As “Bobby” delivered his victory speech in the California presidential primary election, Dolores Huerta stood by his side. Moments later, on that fateful June 5, 1968, he would be shot.

16. She was once beaten severely by a policeman

Credit: images. Digital image. City On Hill Press

This happened in 1988, during a peaceful demonstration in San Francisco. She was protesting the platform of presidential candidate George H.W. Bush. She had broken ribs and her spleen had to be removed in an emergency surgery.

17. She won a lawsuit and guess what she did with the proceeds?

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Huerta being Huerta, she donated it for the benefit of farm workers. Her case also led to a reform in how San Francisco police deal with crowd control.

18. She established the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2002

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The Foundation’s objectives: “community benefit organization that organizes at the grassroots level, engaging and developing natural leaders. DHF creates leadership opportunities for community organizing, leadership development, civic engagement, and policy advocacy in the following priority areas: health & environment, education & youth development, and economic development.” We are lucky to have people like her.

19. She has received numerous accolades in her lifetime

Credit: medaloffreedom. Digital image. Dolores Huerta

Her awards include the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is also in the National Women’s Hall of Fame,  where she was introduced in 1993, the first Latina to achieve this.

20. Huerta had a relationship with Richard Chavez, Cesar’s brother

Credit: normal_055-CORKY-GONZALES-SINGING . Digital image. Libraries USC

The two never married, but they had four children. She had two previous marriages that ended in divorce.

21. Last but not least, she coined a very famous phrase… 

Credit: wp94f22340_05_1a. Digital image. Freedom March of Art

Sí se puede… yes we can. Wow.

Boricuas Are Using Makeup To Protest Governor Ricardo Rosselló And Highlight The U.S.’s Horrifying History Of Colonialism

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Boricuas Are Using Makeup To Protest Governor Ricardo Rosselló And Highlight The U.S.’s Horrifying History Of Colonialism

Since last week, protests have erupted all over Puerto Rico as the island’s population campaigns to remove the current governor of the United States territory. After many government scandals, Governor Ricardo Rosselló has finally agreed to step down and resign from his post. The disgraced head of government is expected to hand over control of the island to Puerto Rico’s new Progressive Party. This comes after controversy following leaked private chats revealing the governor and his inside circle making mocking and degrading comments. It also precedes federal agents arresting members of Rosselló’s administration for alleged fraud and money laundering.

Thousands of Puerto Rican protesters flooded the streets of the island — chanting and demanding resignation. Celebrities like Bad Bunny and Ricky Martin flew to the island to join in the protests. Even Puerto Ricans in mainland America took to the streets in elaborate displays, doing the electric slide to the blaring music that accompanied the gathering.

All of these factors helped to rectify this unjust situation in PR but we would be totally in the wrong if we did not acknowledge the powerful makeup and face painting that also rallied resistors.

Twitter / @oppsyirwin

Twitter User Shaly Torres made it her mission to keep non-Spanish speakers in the loop with what is happening in Puerto Rico. In a thread pinned to her account, the Puerto Rican make up enthusiast shared pictures and information about the ongoing riots. In her thread, there was a common theme of showcasing protesters and their creative way of using makeup to express their demands.

In it, she encouraged makeup artists to take a stand with the protesting Puerto Ricans and don bold make up looks in support of their struggle.

Twitter / @oppsyirwin

It doesn’t take a lot to show your support for a movement. You don’t even have to be in the same area that a protest is impacting. Thanks to social media and the internet, we can connect with people across the world and understand their feelings. We can show them our support in both small and significant ways and that is what Torres encouraged in her post.

Across Twitter and Instagram, makeup artists and enthusiasts showed off their official face paint to honor the protesters in Puerto Rico.

Twitter / @melolops

To protest the sexual violence, fraud, and abuse that the corrupt Puerto Rican government has been perpetuating, some artists scrawled abusive words over their bodies and faces. This Twitter makeup artist painted the Puerto Rican flag upon her face near the word “Enough.” Her post asks, “Asi o mas claro” — is it clear enough what these protesters are asking for?

Protesters weren’t afraid to paint graphic images on their bodies to show the pain that they’ve endured thanks to this administration.

Twitter / @melolops

This protester painted “Dios nos libera del dinero” (God save us from money) — representing the financial corruption that Rosselló’s administration has used to rule over the Puerto Rican people. On her back is a hand holding a machete, thrust up in revolution. It’s accompanied by the rainbow flag to represent the discrimination that the LGBTQ+ community currently faces in Puerto Rico.

A common theme among the face paint was that the fires of revolution have caught and are now burning.

Twitter / @dversadi
This gorgeous revolutionary art shows its artist @dversadi engulfed in flames from the neck up. The fire licks up her cheeks to the dual Puerto Rican flags made up by her elaborate eye makeup. The look is made even more empowering when viewed under UV lights. She looks like a living embodiment of the revolution that the island is experiencing.

Support for the PR protesters has reached far and wide. This one, for example, comes from an artist in Connecticut.

Twitter / @moralesgian291

Makeup artist, Gian Morales, showed his support with this breathtaking paint job. Making himself the Puerto Rican flag, Morales depicts himself with tape sealing his mouth — no doubt a nod to how voiceless the current administration has made its citizens. His gorgeous eye makeup should be appreciated for the work of art that it is as well.

Protesters have gone above and beyond to make sure their message is heard.

Twitter / @molinangelia

Anchor for CBS News, David Begnaud, pointed out just how incredible the PR protesters are and he wondered what other innovative ways citizens will show their support of the revolution. He tweeted:

“I have to say: Puerto Ricans are the most creative protesters I’ve ever covered. Under the water In the water Yoga. What’s next?”

He was answered by Twitter user @monlinangelia who shared a picture of herself skydiving with the phrase, “Ricky Renuncia” painted on her arm. We have to call this one of the most daring protests we’ve seen during this conflict.

We aren’t sure what will change in the near future to improve conditions in Puerto Rico but we know that the citizens of the island will hold their new government accountable. They have the support of their people and the Latinx community around the world. One thing is clear: we can’t deny that these incredible makeup looks have made their mark on the revolution.

Celebrate This Cool Jefa: Luisa Capetillo The Boricua Activist Arrested For Wearing Pants

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Celebrate This Cool Jefa: Luisa Capetillo The Boricua Activist Arrested For Wearing Pants

Born on October 28, 1879, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Luisa Capetillo is best known for her contributions to the labor and anarchist movements in Puerto Rico at the time. She’s also famously remembered as the first Puerto Rican woman to ever have worn pants in public. 

However, her commitment to break the glass ceiling and break traditional societal norms imposed on women extended beyond her fashion choices. Capetillo was a diligent organizer and passionate activist who advocated for women’s rights. She was an all-around badass. 

In a children’s e-book on Rejected Princesses, you can learn more about Luisa Capetillo’s life, one learns about her beginnings and when she first started to become an activist. 

In 1951, Luisa Capetillo became the first Puerto Rican woman to ever wear pants in public in 1951. 

Due to this, it’s been said that she was stopped and arrested for “causing a scandal.” News outlets back then reported that Capetillo defended herself ardently against the claims that she was causing a scandal for wearing pants. 

She has been quoted as saying, “Your Honor, I always wear pants,” and then slightly lifted her dress to show a pair of loose white pants. “And on the night in question, instead of wearing them underneath, I wore them just like men do, based on my perfect civil right to do so, on the outside.” Tell em, Capetillo.  

Luisa Capetillo was homeschooled by her parents.

Her mother, Luisa Margarita Perone, was a French immigrant who worked in domestic work and her father, Luis Capetillo Echevarría, who was from Spain, worked in labor. Her parents never married but they formed a partnership strong enough to raise a young fiery and passionate woman. 

Capetillo’s parents were also drawn together by their similar “beliefs in democratic ideals expressed in the attempted European revolutions of 1848.” They devoted their time to homeschooling her through a liberal education that was infused with ideological influences of both the French Revolution and the workers’ rights movement in Northern Spain. 

Her homeschool education heavily influenced the work she would be later known for. 

After a romance that didn’t end well, and that resulted in two children, she began working as a reader at a tobacco company after the Spanish-American war in Puerto Rico. Readers were needed at companies because, at the time, most of the workforce was illiterature and poorly-educated. As a result, unions hired readers to read newspapers and books out loud during work hours. 

The tobacco factory was also where Capetillo first came into contact with labor unions. What she learned through unions, she used to educate many women across Puerto Rico. 

Her work at the tobacco company also inspired her to write opinion essays and in her writing, she criticized the labor conditions tobacco workers were exposed to.

In an essay titled, “Mi opinión,” Capetillo writes: “Oh you woman! who is capable and willing to spread the seed of justice; do not hesitate, do not fret, do not run away, go forward! And for the benefit of the future generations place the first stone for the building of social equality in a serene but firm way, with all the right that belongs to you, without looking down, since you are no longer the ancient material or intellectual slave.” 

Further, working at the tobacco company led her to organize strikes. It also led her to become an anarchist and inspired material for the four books that she would write. 

Luisa Capetillo was a feminist way ahead of her time and advocated heavily for women’s rights.

Especially when it had to do with female agency. For 1910, she definitely way ahead of the curve. 

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💪 Mes de la mujer: Luisa Capetillo Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico in 1879, Luisa was homeschooled by her parents and later became one of the island’s most important women’s rights activists of her time. She worked as a reader in a cigar making factory and that provided her with her first experiences with labor unions. In 1904, she wrote Mi Opinión (My Opinion), which encouraged women to fight for equal rights. Capetillo’s writing often discusses identity and seeks to motivate women. In her essay ¿Anarquista y espiritista? (Anarchist and Spiritis?) she discusses how she considered herself to be both. • Luis is best known for her involvement in the 1905 farm workers’ strike. She became the leader of the American Federation of Labor and began urging women to fight for their rights. In 1908, she asked the union to approve a women’s suffrage policy. Four years later, she traveled to NYC and Florida to organize Cuban and Puerto Rican tobacco workers; she joined various labor strikes in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Capetillo was also the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. In 1910, it was illegal for women to wear pants in public and she was jailed (the charges were eventually dropped). Later that year, she helped pass a minimum wage law in Puerto Rico. Luisa Capetillo passed away in October 1922. • Capetillo’s legacy includes Casa Protegida Luisa Capetillo: a non-profit organization whose purpose is to defend mistreated women, the Luisa Capetillo Center of Documentation at UPR Cayey: a part of the university’s Women’s Studies project, and a plaque in La Plaza en Honor a la Mujer Puertorriqueña. ⚡️ Luisa Capetillo was submitted as a mujer pode🌹 by one of program organizers/coordinators in Puerto Rico! ⚡️ Stay posted for tomorrow’s mujer pode🌹 from another one of our team members! 📸: Libcom.org • • • • • • • • • • • #puertorico #womenshistorymonth #womenshistory #luisacapetillo #arecibo #history #mujer #mujerpoderosa #studyabroad #westernillinois #westernillinoisuniversity #wiu #wiu18 #wiu19 #wiu20 #wiu21 #wiu22 #wiu23 #puertoricanhistory

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The social labor organizer became well known for her advocacy for equal rights for women, free love, and human emancipation. She developed a lot of her ideals of anarchism and romanticism from being an avid reader as a child. She read a lot of French literature from writers including Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. She also read a lot of Russian Romantics like Leo Tolstoy. 

She died of tuberculosis in 1922 but her legacy and impact as one of Puerto Rico’s first women suffragists live on. 

In 1912, she traveled to New York City where she organized workers in the tobacco factories there. From 1916-1918, she was involved in an intense period of strikes and she would constantly travel from New York City and Puerto Rico. 

She even traveled to Cuba to work with the Federation of Anarchists of Cuba. A couple of years after she contracted tuberculosis and died at 42. 

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