Things That Matter

Dolores Huerta Has Some Words Of Advice For Young Activists Standing Up For Immigration Reform

Ever since she organized farm workers in the 1960s as they fought for better working conditions and fair wages, Dolores Huerta has been committed to fighting for civil rights. The 87-year-old is the focus of a documentary that gives audience members an intimate look at what it takes to devote your life to activism and fighting for those less fortunate. Huerta and the director of the documentary, Peter Bratt, sat down with mitú to talk about activism then and now and what people can do to fight a system they might not agree with today.

Director Peter Bratt is telling Huerta’s story through “Dolores,” a documentary covering her decades of activism.

#LosAngeles: @elgavachillo will join us at the 7:30pm screening SATURDAY at @landmarktheatres Nuart.

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Bratt, also a writer and producer on the documentary, thinks that Huerta’s story is more crucial now than ever. In the ’60s, even though many farm workers were undocumented and couldn’t speak English, Huerta was able to get them involved in the fight for their rights. Huerta organized farm workers through education and motivated them to see beyond the constraints that held them back.

“Nobody thought that was possible, but with organization, she was able to convince them that they could and I think a lot of people are discouraged right now with the current political climate,” Bratt says. “People are feeling, similarly, that their voice doesn’t count. As she says, a lot of us, we are educated, we are citizens, we do speak the language so all the more we can get organized and create change.”

Huerta credits the success of the farm workers movement to different groups coming together to fight for a common goal and exercising their right to vote.

Huerta remembers how civil rights groups — African-American groups, feminist groups, environmental groups, Puerto Rican groups, and labor rights groups — all came together to fight for the farm workers. But it wasn’t just through marches and demonstrations. Huerta says voting made a difference — something she believes contemporary activists should keep in mind.

“It’s wonderful that we’re marching and protesting but if people do not march to that ballot box, if we don’t elect and campaign for people who are progressive and going to represent us, then nothing is going to change,” Huerta says. “The policies that Trump is trying to roll back or policies that he’s enacting that are against the people are going to stay there. We’ve got to vote.”

Bratt says creating a coalition of civil groups led to Huerta’s success and will, in turn, lead to the success of immigration reform.

Bratt points out that the fight for farm workers began as a labor struggle then turned into a fight for racial justice. Once the farm companies used pesticides while the farm workers were on the field, it turned into an environmental issue. Huerta was even able to get the feminist movement involved as she fought to be a voice in a male-dominated community.

“The Dreamers, they need coalition support so I really hope that activists today move away from silo thinking and silo organizing because really all of those struggles are interconnected and we have to build coalitions,” Bratt says. “That’s the only way we’re going to get victories.

When asked about fighting back today, Huerta says, “I say vote a wall of resistance in the Congress.”

“A wall of representation. A wall of resistance,” Huerta says. “That way we not only change some of the changes that Trump is making but stop some of the other policies he is trying to pass.”

Huerta admits that the fight in the ’60s is very similar to the fight now but that’s how it’s always been.

We want you!!! Join people from all over the state who are coming to the Central Valley to turn out voters and wake this SLEEPING GIANT! Join us THIS WEEKEND* for voter registration and crucial civic engagement! Training and food will be provided. Saturday, 10/25/14 from 9am – 2pm and Sunday, 10/26/14 from 3:30pm – 8:30pm at DHF GOTV Office of Bakersfield, 1527 19th St, 2nd Floor, Bakersfield, CA 93301 OR Saturday, 10/25/14 from 9am – 2pm at the DHF GOTV Office of Arvin, 141 North A St, Suite J, Arvin, CA 93203 *Civic engagement opportunities also available during the week and next weekend. Please call (661) 322-3033 or email volunteer@doloreshuerta.org Or, SIGN UP HERE TO MAKE AN IMPACT http://fs30.formsite.com/dhfdevelopment/form1/index.html

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Huerta says that we have seen this kind of action before with Operation Wetback in the 1950s, which was a mass deportation attempt after World War II. Yet, despite all of the fighting and threats, the government inevitably circles back to amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

“They say that the more things seem different the more they stay the same and this fight for immigrant rights has been going on every 20 years for decades. At the end of it, we ultimately end up with an amnesty program,” Huerta says. She adds: “We are seeing that same scenario that is playing out. But the one thing we have is that our numbers are so much bigger now and we have more political emphasis now than we did back then.”

When the fight gets tough, Huerta stresses that activists have to keep the faith alive to make sure it all works out.

Executive producer Carlos Santana, Dolores Huerta and director Peter Bratt.

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“We see the Democrats in the Congress who are coming forward and putting in legislation for the Dreamers,” Huerta says. “If we can look down the road into the future, it’s going to happen. We are eventually going to get immigration reform. Not just for the Dreamers but or everybody else. But we know that we have to struggle and we have to keep that hope and the faith alive and know that we have to keep on going forward and keep organizing and just going.”

Bratt says those against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Dream Act are on the wrong side of history.

#nyc #premiere of DOLORES with #peterbratt #doloreshuerta #carlossantana! #pbs #documentary #sisepuede

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“Striking DACA is a moral crisis,” Bratt says. “It reveals a moral crisis in America right now. The American people are good at heart and will do the right thing but sometimes they need a little help to see that.”

Huerta says DACA recipients need to make sure that their safety isn’t used to further harm the rest of the undocumented community.

“We can’t let our anger turn into violence or to hate,” Huerta says.

“We’re going to use that energy that we have and take that fear that we’re feeling right now and turn it into an energy to do something. As they say, when your adrenaline goes that you’re going to fight or you’re going to run. Well, we’re not going to run. We’re going to stand here and fight. There’s a lot of people behind them. This is a journey we’re all on.”

Learn more about Dolores Huerta’s tips on fighting injustice below.

Dolores Huerta shares 5 tips for fighting against Trump.

Dolores Huerta shares 5 tips for fighting against Trump.

Posted by We are mitú on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

And you can check out the trailer for the “Dolores” documentary here.


READ: This Chicano Photographer Told Us Why Cesar Chavez Has Left A Lasting Impression With Latinos

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A New Documentary Is Shedding Light On The Labor Organizer Who Fought For Farmworkers Before Dolores Huerta

Entertainment

A New Documentary Is Shedding Light On The Labor Organizer Who Fought For Farmworkers Before Dolores Huerta

George Ballis / Take Stock

Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez are often considered the leaders in the farmworkers rights movement. The two have done a lot to better the lives of those working in the fields, but a new documentary is highlighting a forgotten hero in the farmworkers rights movement. “Adios Amor” is highlighting the work of Maria Moreno, who fought for their rights before Huerta and Chavez continued her work.

Before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, there was Maria Moreno, the first female farmworker to lead a union.

Credit: George Ballis / Take Stock

 Adiós Amor—The Search for Maria Moreno, is a feature film that examines the life and death of the obscure labor leader. Moreno was a migrant mother who sacrificed everything but her twelve kids in the pursuit of justice for farmworkers. During the late ’50s and ’60s, Moreno’s work led poor agricultural workers into a movement that would later capture the heart of the nation. 

The discovery of forgotten photographs taken more than fifty years ago sparked the search for an unsung hero. A migrant mother haunted by a personal tragedy who rolled up her sleeves, collected signatures, and electrified audiences with her gift for public speaking for a cause she believed in.

Moreno was the first female farmworker in America to be hired as a union organizer. She was elected by her fellow Mexican American, Filipino, Black and Okie farmworkers to represent them. Her charisma attracted crowds, but it also got her into trouble with her labor bosses who fired her for being so outspoken. 

The film’s director and producer Laurie Coyle found photos of Moreno tucked away in an archive.

Credit: George Ballis / Take Stock

Were it not for the Maverick photographers and journalists who captured Maria’s legacy, her story might have been lost. Coyle has said that the idea for the project began after she found the images captured by late farmworker photographer George Ballis. The photos depict Moreno speaking in front of crowds and meeting with workers in the fields of California, racing to events with her children and husband.

“She had this piercing gaze and always seemed to be surrounded by children,” Coyle told Shoot Online. “I couldn’t help but be captivated.”

Coyle began researching about Moreno. But the whereabouts of the activist later in life remains a mystery. The search for Moreno guides the documentary, where characters fade in and out like ghosts. From California’s Great Central Valley to the Arizona desert and U.S.-Mexico border, the journey tells Moreno’s story with passion and humor. The director soon discovered radio journalist Ernest Lowe, who had followed Moreno during her days as a union leader and had also been enchanted by her charisma. 

Moreno and her family were traveling farmworkers following the crops.

Credit: George Ballis / Take Stock

Born to a Mexican immigrant father and Mescalero Apache mother, in Karnes City, Texas; Moreno and her family were nomadic farmworkers for years. Following the crops, their travels took them to Utah, California, Arizona, and Texas. 

In April 1958, Moreno started her union activism following a flood that pushed many workers into starvation. Coyle found that one of her sons went blind temporarily due to extreme hunger. “How do you think that I feel … seeing my son blind only because we don’t got nothing to eat?” Moreno said in one passionate speech. “(Meanwhile), some other tables are full and wasting food.”

In a time of unprecedented abundance, farmworkers lived in dire poverty, and Maria Moreno set out to change that.

Credit: George Ballis / Take Stock

A deeply human drama is brought to the viewers’ attention, Mexican-American farmworkers living in dire poverty at a time of unprecedented abundance. An abundance sustained by impoverished peoples’ faith, family values, and working-class culture. 

Adios Amor – The Search for Maria Moreno pays tribute to the people whose hard work feeds the nation, and celebrates the courageous woman who told their story to the world.

She gained support from Oklahoma migrants, Filipino American workers, and Latino pickers, and was active in the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, a union that was sponsored by the AFL-CIO.

“It was so unusual for a woman like her back then to be in this position,” Coyle told Shoot Online. “The first time I understood that she was somebody different was when she went to (University of California,) Berkeley,” Martha Moreno Dominguez, her daughter, said in the film. “I realized who my mother really was … I said, wow, you know. Here’s my mother, a second-grade education doing this.”

Eventually, Moreno was forced out of the union and left California to practice her faith.

Credit: George Ballis / Take Stock

Eventually, in 1962, Moreno was forced out of the fight due to jealousy and disagreements within the union. Documents show an AFL-CIO official accused her of misspending and she was forced to step down from leadership.

“She wasn’t afraid to say whatever she had to say,” Gilbert Padilla, co-founder for the United Farm Workers, told Shoot Online. “I assume that’s why they got rid of her.”

Coyle’s research found that when Cesar Chavez began to form his own farmworkers union, he purposely kept Moreno out of it, seeing her as a “big mouth”, and a possible rival.

Moreno’s children say she left California for a remote part of the Arizona desert, 100 miles west of Phoenix, where she asked God for guidance. Later in her life, Moreno became a Pentecostal minister along the US-Mexico border in San Luis, Arizona. She sought to transform society one soul at a time, instead of focusing on systemic change. Maria Moreno died in 1989, largely forgotten.

Watch the trailer below.

The film is set to premiere Friday, September 27 on most PBS stations.

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

Dolores Huerta Was Just Detained For Protesting For Workers’ Rights In Fresno County

Things That Matter

Dolores Huerta Was Just Detained For Protesting For Workers’ Rights In Fresno County

Dolores Huerta is one of the best-known and relentless labor organizers in the U.S. Her career fighting for workers’ rights spans decades and her work is nowhere near done. Today, the 89-year-old activist was detained while protesting the treatment of In-House Supportive System workers in Fresno County who have been negotiating a pay raise for years. Here’s what went down during the Board of Supervisors meeting at the Fresno County Hall of Records.

Dolores Huerta kept her chin up in defiance as she was escorted, in plastic handcuffs, from a Board of Supervisors meeting in Fresno County.

Credit: laloalcaraz / Twitter

According to the Fresno Bee, Huerta was one of several protesters demanding that the Fresno Board of Supervisors approve a respectable raise for In-Home Supportive System (IHSS) employees.

The IHSS program “helps elderly, blind and disabled people to safely remain in their own homes when they are not able to fully care for themselves or handle routine household tasks,” reads the website. “IHSS encourages independence and self-reliance, when possible, and is an alternative to out-of-home care in institutions or nursing facilities.”

IHSS employees offer clients services like housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, bathing, and accompanying patients to medical appointments, to name a few.

Huerta and other protesters filled the Fresno County Hall of Records to voice their demands to those making the decisions.

Credit: @DaryRezani / Twitter

According to the Fresno Bee, the IHSS workers currently make the minimum wage, which is set at $12 an hour. The labor union has been negotiating a pay raise for the workers for years and the Fresno Board of Supervisors was set to approve a 10-cent per hour raise. That is what sparked the protest demanding a proper wage increase.

According to the Fresno Bee, more than 17,000 people in Fresno County rely on caregivers and that number is expected to reach 106,000 by 2030.

People are absolutely celebrating the activist for her unapologetic stance for laborers.

Credit: @AshleySayWhatt / Twitter

Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers, back in in 1962 and used her activist knowledge to fight for better working conditions for farmworkers in Delano, California. Since then, Huerta has been an example of activism and her fight for the most vulnerable in the employment community has continued.

Her reputation as a strong woman has become an irrefutable characteristic of the activist.

Credit: @Castror14 / Twitter

Señora Chingona, indeed. Huerta has been arrested several times as part of her activism. She has even used her voice and name to fight for what she thinks is right in politics. Her activism was on full display during the 2016 elections as people mobilized to fight for the Latino community.

The protesters at the Fresno Board of Supervisors meeting today were optimistic about their ability to exact change.

Protesters joyfully chanted, “We believe we can win” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, poverty wages have got to go.” The protesters were effective in getting the attention of the board. The protest was disruptive enough that the meeting was recessed for 10 minutes just 30 seconds after they began chanting. The Fresno Bee called the protest ill-timed but the protesters knew they had the attention of those in charge.

“They are finalizing the budget in September. We want to make sure they put us in the budget for a wage increase,” organizer Ua Lugo told the Fresno Bee. “So today is very important.”

Despite numerous people being detained, the protesters continued in their fight.

“It should not come to this. It should not come to this,” protester Martha Valladarez told the Fresno Bee about caring for her daughter with Down Syndrome while officers placed plastic cuffs on her. “They have no idea the love that we have for our family members.”

Huerta was released shortly after being detained and she was greeted with a cheering crowd for her willingness to keep protesting.

What do you think about Dolores Huerta being detained for her protest in Fresno?

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