Dolores Huerta, an internationally-known Chicana activist, feminist, and mother who co-founded with César Chávez in the 1960s the United Farmworkers of America union, visited Michigan State University on February 27, 2018. She was the keynote speaker at the Annual César E. Chávez Luncheon Celebration, which attracted a large audience that included local community leaders, MSU faculty and students, high school students, and Latino community members and leaders. Ms. Huerta began her inspiring presentation by recalling critical events in U.S. history; namely what occured in the nation during the 1960s when people like César Chávez, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy fought against many types of discrimination and for people’s civil and human rights. Ms. Huerta also thanked MSU for its strong and continuous support for farmworkers.
According to Ms. Huerta, it is unfortunate the nation has returned to those dark days in our nation’s history when rampant racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry were common. Farmworkers, despite working hard and harvesting food for the entire nation, still are not respected and are frequently neglected by the public and policymakers. Huerta stated that during the week of her presentation the U.S. Supreme Court was deliberating issues of funding for unions of government workers. She stated that without money labor unions cannot carry out their work on behalf of employees, who currently benefit from the work of labor unions. It is important, she argued, that we should continue supporting their work.
Ms. Huerta also highlighted the importance of education, because educated persons have manners, support civil rights, are prepared for the labor market, and have many opportunities to change society’s current conditions. She gave the example of the work of the Dolores Huerta Foundation that supports a middle school through a local bond to build a new gymnasium for students and the community.
Ms. Huerta also emphasized the huge wealth difference prevailing in the country, with 10 percent of people having 90 percent of the wealth. She also promoted the idea of free tuition in higher education for everyone, much like in the European Union and Cuba.
Finally, Ms. Huerta urged audience members to follow César Chávez’s commitment to non-violent actions, encourage voting in elections, and embrace rather than attack people because they are immigrants. She concluded her remarks by saying that we need to make the changes for a better society since no one else will do it for us.