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Dolores Huerta Shares Her Wit and Promise to Keep Working PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez | Editor   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 06:42

Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta is 82 years old, but isn't slowing down.

She is currently traveling on behalf of her foundation. At a fundraiser for her foundation held in Panorama City on Saturday, July 21, with powerhouse politicians and long time community activists in attendance, Huerta wore the Medal of Freedom awarded to her by President Barack Obama.

"The really big one, the big medal was actually given to me by labor secretary Hilda Solis," Huerta laughed, holding it up for the crowd to see. "The smaller one is the Medal of Freedom," she shared.

In the backyard of "Rancho Ollin," the home base for the Ballet Folklorico Ollin dance company, L.A. County supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina, Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel, and Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon – along with political assistants – presented proclamations and took turns paying tribute to Huerta.

A local Girl Scout presented Huerta with a Girl Scout pin, and shared that Huerta was a Girl Scout.

A 19-year-old "Dreamer," an undocumented college student and aspiring photographer, hugged Huerta as he presented her with a photo he took of a demonstration to support the DREAM Act. The photo was of people carrying a banner at the march that read "Undocumented but not Illegal."

Approached by members of the San Fernando Recall Committee, Huerta offered her support for them and the action to fight the closure of the JCPenney store in San Fernando.

After receiving many accolades, Huerta spoke of the foundation's work for hands-on training to organize a strong grassroots network of people engaged in transforming their communities and pursuing social justice.

"Basically what we do is organize people, just like when we organized the [United Farmworkers] Union," Huerta said. "We have organizers, we train people and then we put them into the community."

According to Huerta, the foundation has had much success in registering voters, providing young women's leadership training, getting new neighborhood parks, sewers and sidewalks, two community swimming pools and a school gymnasium. The foundation has also started a wellness campaign, pregnancy prevention program and domestic training prevention.

"We know it's been a long struggle to get there, Chicano, Mexicano, Latino civil rights, and we can be happy and proud of everything we've accomplished. But we know that we still have a long way to go." Huerta said.

"We know that the racism is still there, the divisions are still there, it's happening to the kids in our schools."

Huerta's foundation is focused on youth and education as well as health, environment and economic development. "Our kids are being pushed out," she told her supporters. "They are expelled...suspended because they know that education is the power. We're not going to let them deny our kids from having that power.

"We are going to get out there and we're going to make sure our kids go to school."

Huerta said that decision makers and the state legislature must be approached to address the needs of youth and education.

"[They need to be told] 'Hey, wait a minute, we don't want our money to keep going to the jails. We need that money to come to our schools,'" she said.

"Here's a startling statistic, when you go over the hill from Pleasant Hills to Sacramento. Since 1965 there have been four universities that have been built, (like) the University of Merced. In that same period of time they have (built) seventeen prisons. You know that it costs about $70,000 to keep a person in prison. It only takes $50,000 to educate them," Huerta pointed out.

Huerta, a strident feminist, said that she believed there were many women who attended the event to honor her to be equally deserving of receiving the Medal of Freedom, the country's highest award that can be given to a civilian.

"This medal represents so much work by so many thousands of people that have worked to make things better. I'm the lucky one that got it. I feel very humble," she said.

"It's not just about our community, it's about our country. It's about democracy. When we're involved, the democratic system really does work. When we are not involved, we get candidates that we hate. As we've seen, it can be outrageous.

"Recently Cornel West said, 'Justice is the public face of love.' If you turn that around, you can say that injustice is the public face of hate. Regardless, when they are attacking immigrants and undocumented, when they are attacking women, when they are attacking the LGTB community, when they are attacking labor unions, that's the public face of hate.

"I promise to keep on working even harder. Si Se Puede everybody," Huerta said, as the crowd gave her a standing ovation and the farm worker's hand clap as the young students in the crowd shouted, "Viva Dolores!"

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 08:42