Dolores Huerta: “Sí, Se Puede” A Lifetime of Fighting for Fairness and Justice

Voice. Power. Activism. Badassery. These are some words that are associated with Dolores Huerta, a Social Justice Victress. She has made it her life's mission to give her voice and her power to those who have not been able to wield their own.

Dolores Huerta speaking at March for Democracy in California, 2014. Photo by Dan Bacher.

In her mid-twenties, Dolores Huerta left her job as a teacher after seeing too many children coming to school hungry day after day. She decided that something must be done, and she would be the one to do. While working with the Community Service Organization*, Huerta learned how to become an influential and effective organizer. She quickly became the Political Director of the CSO. This is where she met Cesar Chavez, a fellow social activist. Together they would co-found the United Farm Workers Union. 

In the mid-century, before Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, farm workers were living and working in dire conditions for just 70 cents an hour. After seeing their struggles firsthand, they both moved into the dwellings of the workers to live among them and advocate for improvements. Huerta was the political and lobbying force in the movement, while Chavez stayed to hear the concerns of the community. Along with Filipino migrant workers, they were able to help make the 1965 Grape Boycott* one of the most effective nonviolent protests to date and improve the lives of millions of migrant and farm workers around the country.

Photo by Eric Guo/Flickr

“Sí, se puede!”  in Spanish or “Yes, we can!”  in English are rally cries heard at protests and marches for change. They are simple but extremely effective phrases. Heck, Barack Obama used it as his campaign slogan in 2008 and was able to become the first black president of the United States. Proof enough, right? Did you know that this phrase comes from Dolores Huerta? Yep. She coined it and made it the rallying cry of the workers movement. It’s a perfect representation of the attitude with which she takes on major issues affecting disadvantaged people. 

Huerta has been awarded the Medal of Freedom, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award and was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of fame. With the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Their mission is to teach people how to organize and lead in order to advocate for themselves and their communities. 

In August 2019, she was arrested for the 20th time in her life while protesting peacefully. This time, for a wage increase for home workers in California, who have not received an increase in a decade. At 89 years young, Dolores Huerta still adamantly follows her life’s calling of service to others. 

Dolores Huerta is the definition of a Victress through and through. 

 

About the Design:

In a TED talk from 2018, Dolores Huerta talks about removing apathy, getting out the vote and using our voices for change. In this lecture, she references a quote by Hellen Keller; “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings.”  Huerta follows this quote by stating “We know that apathy really costs us a lot, especially in our democracy…”. 

This and her life of activism inspired us to play with the word “Apathy” and to shed light on the concept with a twist of fun and sass. The end result: “You Can’t Spell Apathetic Without Pathetic” punches straight to the heart of the issue-- our country and our communities are quite sad and useless when they’re full of apathy. The designs pull elements from Dolores’ Chicano heritage and her work with labor unions. 

Continue to Spread Dolores Huerta’s Story! Wear it and Share it!

*NOTICE: In each of the sources with an asterisk, one of them from a state archive and the other from a mainstream historical site, Dolores Huerta is not mentioned even once.