Dolores Huerta — Inspirational Icon

IMG_3334I saw a film last night that should be required viewing for every woman who’s ever felt disempowered no matter her color, by every mother, by every judgmental school administrator, and by every male of every race. It’s called DOLORES and is the story of Dolores Huerta, the little-known mother of the Farmworkers union (to Cesar Chavez’s father) and eleven children. She, along with the farmworkers, forced change at a time when the growers refused to consider their workers more than slaves. She demanded better treatment in the fields, that workers not be sprayed by pesticides, that they be paid fairly and that they have clean, safe places to live. She was a friend of Bobby Kennedy’s who’d taken up the farmworkers’ cause and was by his side when he was assassinated at LA’s Ambassador Hotel. She later fought for women’s rights, LGBGT rights and was one of Hillary’s surrogates in the last election. Today she is still fighting at 87. It’s just what and who she is, and she’s never let the fact that she is both Latin and female get in her way despite daunting obstacles, both outside and even within her own patriarchal community. Peter Bratt, the film’s director, made the film at the urging of Carlos Santana, and it took 5 years to complete. Bratt was there last night, fielding questions from many with connection to Dolores or knew her story (I did not). One person sitting in the audience at the NW Film Center was a former attorney, named Art Johnson. He was the lead prosecutor against the San Francisco Police Department after one of its officers took a baton to Dolores (over 50 at the time and not a threatening presence) during a protest, beating her and landing her in the hospital with life-threatening injuries (you see it happen in the film). Johnson, clearly moved and fighting tears, rose to tell the story of how he and his team won a settlement from the SF police department and when he told Dolores the terms, which would pay her to $2000 a month for life, her response was, “This isn’t about the money, but we’ll use it to reform the police department.” When she recovered, she did that, culminating in an entirely new policy and rulebook for the department. It was Dolores who came up with the call to action, “Si se puede,” making the farmworkers believe they could make change happen. You’ll recognize the call as, “Yes We Can,” used by Barack Obama (he gave her credit) in the lead up to election. In this horrific political climate we find ourselves in in 2017, the film gave me inspiration to resume the fight. It’s traveling the country and will air on PBS next Spring. #shepersists #couldabeenamuff IMG_3327