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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The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

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The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

At the dawn of Black History Month the timely release of “Judas and the Black Messiah” echoed the cries of injustice following a summer of civil unrest. In what was considered the largest multicultural protest of the 21st century, the words of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton ferociously chanting “I AM…A REVOLUTIONARY!” continue to resonate.

The timely Civil Rights film, available to stream on HBO Max, follows the life and betrayal of The Illinois Black Panther Chairman (played by Daniel Kaluuya) at the hands of a party member and FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal (played by Lakeith Stanfield). Kaluuya’s captivating performance as the charismatic Hampton received widespread acclaim and his first Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.

For some audience members, this film will be their first introduction to Chairman Fred Hampton and an extension of the Black Panther Party. While the film is relatively accurate, the brief inclusion of the original Rainbow Coalition is pertinent to Hampton’s legacy. You can see its relation to the rise in multicultural youth-driven activism we see today.

In February 1969, Hampton and other Panther members met with Young Lords leader José “Cha-Cha” Jimenez after the Puerto Rican street organization shut themselves in the 18th District police station. The protest was calling attention to the police harassment of Latinx residents in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

The Young Lords started as a turf gang in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1960. By 1968, the Young Lords became a Civil Rights organization. The Illinois chapter and Young Lords formed the original Rainbow Coalition in April 1969. Jimenez referred to the coalition as a “poor people’s army” in an interview with Southside Weekly. Shortly after, the coalition grew to include the Young Patriots Organization a white, southern working-class group from Northern Chicago.

The Rainbow Coalition fought against police brutality and institutional racism in Chicago while working to uplift their local communities. The organization, consisting of people in their teens and early 20s, offered free breakfast programs and child daycare centers funded by donations from local businesses.

“It is impossible to make revolutionary change without the people,” Jimenez said in an interview with FightBack! News on the 50th anniversary of the coalition’s foundation.

“The Rainbow Coalition was more than just a gang of activists or folks trying to gain one or two small victories,” he told FightBack! News. “Each of our groups were already small revolutionary armies connected to the people’s struggle and trying to create a People’s Army to win the battle.”

Hampton and Jimenez were both sent to solitary confinement at Cook County Jail for their activism. In another incident noted in the film, Hampton was once sentenced after taking ice cream pops from an ice cream truck to pass out to neighborhood kids.

Supporters claim that it is a consequence of their street organizing and a threat to government authority for their Marxist-Leninist views.

The tension between the Chicago Police Department and the Black Panthers failed to cease, and the FBI was closing in on silencing Hampton. On December 4, 1969, the Cook County’s State Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan conducted an overnight raid on Hampton’s apartment with a warrant to search for illegal weapons.

Police barraged into Hampton’s apartment shooting gunfire wounding several Black Panthers and killing Black Panther security chief Mark Clark. Hampton was asleep in his bedroom next to his pregnant fiancée Deborah Johnson (who now goes by Akua Njeri) when he was struck by the gunfire, killing him.

Hampton was 21 at the time of his death.

The assassination of Fred Hampton left Coalition members distraught and fearful for their own lives as leadership slowly diminished. By 1973, the Rainbow Coalition had officially disbanded.

The embodiment of radicalized thought, in a sea of young revolutionaries, adorning their berets of black and purple. The roars of unapologetic protest against racism persisted and the legacy of youth-driven advocacy for the unified equity of all peoples vehemently lives on.

“Ours is not about individuals but a people’s struggle led by the common folk,” Jimenez said to FightBack! News. “Ours is a protracted struggle that will take years and we must prepare ourselves for the long run via structured community programs specific to the revolution.”

READ: Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

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Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Entertainment

Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Filmmaker Celina Escher wanted to capture a historic moment in the Caribbean through the eyes of someone you might not expect. As an assignment from the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV), Escher was tasked with finding a compelling character to cover. Her response was a woman who fought for the Cuban revolution and her excitement for President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in a film titled “Verde Olivo.” CiNEOLA is bringing the short documentary to the U.S. audience to have a peek into this historic moment.

“Verde Olivo” captures one of Cuba’s most historic moments through the eyes of a revolutionary soldier.

Escher wanted to speak to someone from the Cuban Revolution because of the influence it had on her own home country: El Salvador. The filmmaker wanted to see the people who encouraged the guerilla fighters she learned about growing up. Her search led her to Teresa, a woman who fought for the revolution and has maintained her unwavering support for Fidel Castro and his vision.

“When I met Teresa we spoke about her life and the woman’s role in the Cuban Revolution. On one occasion, Teresa mentioned that she needed to repair her television for the arrival of Obama,” Escher says. “It was a historical moment for Cubans, and especially for Teresa who had devoted her life to the revolution. I was inspired by her and it was then I began to film Teresa’s preparation process.”

Escher appreciated that Teresa and her husband were getting their television repaired in order to watch President Obama’s visit. Cubans are known for maintaining old cars and appliances because of the scarcity of stuff available on the island.

“In Cuba, what is broken is repaired. The Cuban people don’t throw away what is broken and replace it with a new one, like most other western consumerist societies,” Escher says. “Cubans found a way to survive and thrive despite the U.S. embargo. In this precarious situation, the Cubans have been forced to be creative, to repair and recycle.”

“Verde Olivo” shows the resilience of some in Latin America to retain socialist ideals.

The documentary, according to Escher, is important to highlight the strength some in Latin America have maintained against “U.S. imperialism.” Despite the U.S. embargo, life has continued to go on in Cuba after the revolution.

“There have been numerous U.S. military interventions and coups d’etat throughout Latin America where left wing leaders have been replaced with authoritarian military regimes,” Escher says. “There are 76 U.S. military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean with the purpose of securing their economic and political interests. It’s remarkable how Cuba managed to survive all the aggressions and violence.”

The civil war in El Salvador is a strong example for Escher. She grew up knowing of the violent civil war the killed tens of thousands of Salvadorans. The civil war was funded in part by the U.S. government and adds to the overall narrative of U.S.-backed coup d’etats in Latin America.

President Obama’s visit was a wonderful experience while on the island.

Escher remembers that the island was electric as the Cuban people waited for President Obama’s arrival. He was the first president to visit the island in decades and created a renewed hope in cooperation between the two countries.

“It was as if a superstar was arriving. The streets of Havana were cleaned, streets were closed for his arrival, and overall the Cubans were very excited,” Escher recalls. “First of all it was the first U.S. President to arrive in Cuba since 1928, and it happened to be the first Black U.S. President. There has never been a Black president or comandante in Cuba which added to the excitement of many Cubans.”

Despite the visit, many of the Cuban people remained frustrated and disappointed with the overall impact. Escher spoke with Teresa, and her husband Orlando, after the visit. The couple has soured a bit on the visit because the embargo remained and Guantanamo Bay remained occupied.

You can watch the full documentary through CiNEOLA here.

READ: Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

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