HomeCity NewsDolores Huerta Receives Holiday Proclamation at City Hall

Dolores Huerta Receives Holiday Proclamation at City Hall

Dolores Huerta was born on April 10, 1930, in Dawson, New Mexico, a once-booming mining hub. Today, Dawson is a ghost town, but Huerta is larger than life.

The labor activist and American icon spent the evening before her 94th birthday at the Burbank City Hall on Tuesday, as the City Council proclaimed April 10 Dolores Huerta Day, a day which city employees will take off work in honor of Huerta and her lifelong labor organizing efforts.

“I encourage all of my fellow residents to learn from Ms. Huerta’s example, and to work to make a positive impact in our community and every community that you call home,” Mayor Nick Schultz said as he handed Huerta the framed proclamation.

Huerta spent most of her early life in the Central Valley of California, where she first fostered her passion for fighting for the rights of farm workers and their families. She co-founded the National Farm Workers association alongside Cesar Chavez. The organization later became United Farm Workers, the nation’s first enduring and largest farm workers union.

“Ms. Huerta’s lobbying and negotiating skills played a central role in many of the movement’s successes, including an international boycott of grapes that led to the first farm worker union contracts and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975,” Schultz said.

Known for coining the slogan “Sí, se puede,” or “Yes, we can,” during the farm labor movement, Huerta was the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Through her nonprofit organization Dolores Huerta Foundation, Huerta continues to advocate for marginalized communities and mentors the next generation of advocates.

“This city is really a model for so many cities, because you are showing that you have a very big heart, and now I am a part of that,” Huerta said.

Vice Mayor Nicki Perez played a significant role in creating the holiday. When Perez set her eyes on her childhood hero on Tuesday, she said, Huerta made her lose her breath.

“You have been a champion and a leader for farmworkers, for labor unions, for the LGBTQ community and for women everywhere,” said Perez. “I have looked up to you very much, because it has been 94 years that you have not stopped working, fighting, growing and organizing for your community.”

Perez read a quote during the proclamation ceremony that was originally spoken by Huerta: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”

In true form, Huerta took the opportunity twice during the meeting to advocate for workers or encourage the audience to participate in the upcoming election.

“When I receive this gift, I receive it on behalf of the working people, especially farm workers,” said Huerta, as she received the framed proclamation from Schultz. “Our farm workers are our essential workers. Unfortunately, they still do not receive the types of wages and benefits that other essential workers do, but we have to remember them and remember that they are the ones who put our food on the table.”

Schultz called Huerta an icon, thanked her for standing up for working people and encouraged young people watching the meeting to do the same.

Huerta responded, laughing, and quoted a phrase she said her youngest son had told her.

“Mom, you’re not an icon, you’re an I can,’” she said.

First published in the April 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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