Dolores Huerta, 2017
acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 in
With Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farmworkers (UFW) and was instrumental in organizing the Delano Grape Strike in 1965. She was also the lead negotiator in the first contract after the strike.
“Whenever I was on the marches with Cesar Chavez, she was always there – young and tough and brave,” Joan says. “And she also has lasted.”
She certainly has, despite being severely beaten by San Francisco police officers in a peaceful and lawful protest against the policies of President George H.W. Bush outside the St. Francis Hotel in 1988. Baton-wielding officers broke several of her ribs and caused serious internal injuries that required the emergency removal of her spleen. She subsequently won a large judgment against the police and the city that was used to benefit the union.
After a lengthy recovery, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a grassroots organization to develop the next generation of leaders, and she traveled the country for two years on behalf of women’s rights, significantly increasing the number of women in government. At the 2008 Democratic Convention, she was chosen to formally put Hillary Clinton’s name into nomination as the Democratic candidate for president.
At 87, her honors include the Eugene V. Debs Outstanding American Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1993, she was the first Latina woman inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.