By Marian Wright Edelman
“You know, when we started the farm workers movement, I remember going to many conferences, and people [kept asking] how do we do this?… We had to convince people that they have power.
“Of course, when you say to a farm worker who doesn’t speak the English language, doesn’t have formal education, doesn’t have any assets, doesn’t have any money, that he or she has power, they say, ‘What kind of power do I have?’ And so what we had to convince the workers is you do have power, but that power is in your person.
“That power is in your person, and when you come together with other workers, other people, and they also understand that they have power, this is the way that changes are made. But you can’t do it by yourself. You’ve got to do it with other people. You’ve got to work together to make it happen.”
As the founder of the Agricultural Workers Association, the cofounder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union, and the founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for community organizing, Dolores Huerta has spent decades working relentlessly to improve social and economic conditions for farm workers and to fight discrimination in all forms. In the process she has improved the lives of countless children and families, especially poor and immigrant families.
Huerta started out with a mission to be a teacher, but quickly realized that most of her students were children of farm workers who lived in poverty. She couldn’t stand seeing the children coming to class hungry and needing shoes, and she thought she could do even more to help them by organizing their parents. Huerta’s many successes over the years have proven her right about the power every person can have once they are ready to claim it and work together with others for change.
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