Dolores Huerta speaks
Mon. 1 April 7 p: DOLORES HUERTA speaks with host Cristina Baccin about the importance of "standing up" for Latino people, and women. Danny Solis (Coordinator) and Chuy Martinez of the "Recuerda A Cesar Chavez Committee" will join us to begin to celebrate the 2oth Annual César Chavez Day.
Copyright © 2013 Cristina Baccin. For personal, noncommercial use only. For other uses, prior permission required.
CRISTINA BACCIN, Host:
Dolores Huerta, mother of 11 children, is a civil-rights, workers, and women’s advocate.
With Cesar Chavez, co- founded the United Farm Workers of America in 1962. As Political Director of the UFW, Huerta was influential in securing the passage of the Immigration Reform Act of 1986. In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
As a community activist and political organizer for more than 50 years, she has worked to advance the cause of marginalized communities.
Last year, she was namd as Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
At age 82, she continues working to develop community leaders, advocating for working poor, women and children through the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
She´ll be in Albuquerque, this Saturday, April 6th as the honored guest to commemorate the 20th Annual Cesar Chavez Day, in the National Hispanic Cultural Center. My name is Cristina Baccin, for ESPEJOS DE AZTLÁN.
HUERTA: Well, no thank you for inviting me. It is always very good to go back to New Mexico and to see the great works that people are doing there. And, of course to celebrate.. We know, este año is twenty years desde que se fue César Chávez, when César passed away and left us. And I want to thank everybody in New Mexico for doing this march to commemorate César. And especially, right now, in this important time when we are facing this whole immigration law that is being drafted in Washington DC right now, and to show to our lawmakers that we support immigration reform.
And one of the best ways we can do this is, is by going out there and marching, and showing people that we are together, that we have the energy. We want to march in the street, and we also want to march in the neighborhoods, like we did in --- to get the people out to vote, so they pay attention. And now we march to get the attention that we need the lawmaker to pass immigration reform.
BACCIN: What is the difference between today´s social movement in the Latino community and Chicano movement in the sixties?
HUERTA: Well, I think that it´s much broader now, and it´s bigger than it was back there in the sixties. I mean, there were like activistis in every área, but nothing to the extent that it is now when you have people all over the country, that are engaged. Recently, we saw what the Dreamers did, what the young people did, how they, kind of set the markers, set the standards for everybody, to get everybody out there to work and get the Dream Act passed, well not the Dream Act, the DACA. I think that there is energy right now in our community that is very different than what it was back in the sixties.
BACCIN:From your point of view, what is the best strength, la mayor fortaleza, of Latino people in today´s USA?
HUERTA: I think that is the energy, its the energy that people have right now. We know that this has been a big attack on our community… to me that’s what has sparked the movement of today; because all over the country we had these really right wingers and conservatives that have attacked our community, I mean in such a vicious way! Nothing like… I think that… even in the sixties, it wasn´t that bad.. the way they have come out against immigrants and the deportations! All that has happened. I think that in the community now there is a lot of anger, and people that want to see that this is stopped; somehow we can use our power, our voting power, our marching power, our power to call on our Congress people, and to stop these abuses.
BACCIN:The most important thing is that we need to stop to be silent. Many times, in the journalistic chronicles, it´s said: “the Latino people is the silent people”. Is this moment to be part of the big decisions of the USA, isn´t it?
HUERTA: Absolutely! And before we would always say to people you need to come out, you have to vote… Every election we say that, and this last time they really did it! They came out in big numbers. They came out in big numbers before, in 2008 but this time they even surpassed that. I think that is what made the big difference.
BACCIN: As a woman, would you tell us, de mujer a mujer, how was your experience as leader of the Farm Workers and how is it today? Especially, to learn from your experience how to grow as Latino women, Latinas, in this environment?
HUERTA: As women we just have to step up to the plate, and don´t let anybody hold us back. I think that a lot of times, as women, we know that we have the leadership inside of us, but we hesitate. We are afraid that we are going to be criticized or that people are going to make fun of us, or that if we try to be too assertive and that they then use the “B” word… and so we hold ourselves back . So what I want to say to the women: Just step up!
HUERTA: We have great ideas, we have a lot of good energy, and do what we think we need to do, and try to include other people. We don´t want to be primadonnas and say… We need think about being a part of a team and bring other people along with us. So, it’s not just about a woman being out in front but at the same time you don´t want to say “la mujer siempre tiene que estar atrás”, right? We have good ideas, we have good intuition. But sometimes, as I say, we hold ourselves back, because we are afraid we will be critized if we say or we take actions that need to be taken. And you know in a lot of things too we say, “Oh! I am going to make a mistake”. We can say: “it´s ok to make a mistake!”
BACCIN: We don´t need to be perfect!
HUERTA: No! One thing that we know is that we learn from our mistakes. We make a mistake, and that´s our best teacher. And we learn from that mistake. Next time we´ll do it we will do it a little bit different to correct our mistake. But we do need women in the leadership. And the only that´s holding us back is ourselves.
BACCIN: For youngsters, what is your message? Especially, here there is a big Dreamers in action movement; for Latino young people, what would you tell to them?
HUERTA: For the young people, and also for everybody, I would say: chat to other people. We have a tendency to just talk to ourselves, talk to our friends, and people who think like us. We need to reach out to the other ones. Educate them about our issues, about the drop out/push out rate, that we have .. the discrimination that we have in our Latino community towards women… … the issues of our LGBT community and equality marriage… the issues of choice for women, the environment, labor issues, all these things that really affect us… but don´t just keep it to yourself. Go out and talk to people that don´t understand. They don´t understand why do we need immigration reform. They don´t understand what our community contributes to the American economy with our sweat, our pride, and our buying power. And why we have to stop the suspensions and expulsions of our youth, to stop the incarceration of our youth. We have all of these issues, and again freedom to marry, why people need to support the LGBT community.
If we just talk to that other, then we don´t really get very far. So, we chat with that other person… I like to tell people, lo que dijo Benito Juarez: “el respeto del derecho ajeno es la paz”. A woman´s right´s to choose, a person who may fall in love and marry… es lo que dijo Benito Juarez: “respecting other´s people right is peace”
BACCIN: What else do you want to add to invite people for the April 6th for 20th Annual César Chavez Day?
HUERTA: Please, come to the march! Bring your children to the march! They´ll remember that when they get older, that they marched to remember César Chavez legacy of inclusion, of non violence, of action. So we know that all of us working together, we can make a better world. Marching is one way we that can show our unity and that we are together in this march. This is a march for justice that César started and that we are going to continue.
BACCIN:Thank you so much. I hope to meet you in the march next Saturday, with all the Latino people.
HUERTA: ¡Muchas gracias! Viva Chavez!
1 April 2013, New Mexico, USA