Dolores Huerta is a legendary labor leader, women's advocate and civil rights activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Working alongside UFW President César Chavez, Huerta was involved in numerous community and labor organizing efforts in Central California and quickly became a skilled organizer and negotiator for the union. In the UFW she was instrumental in the union's many successes, including the strikes against California grape growers in the 1960s and 1970s. As an advocate for farmworkers' rights, Huerta was arrested twenty-two times for participating in non-violent civil disobedience activities and strikes.
Huerta stepped down from her position at the UFW in 1999, yet she continues to work to improve the lives of workers, immigrants and women and children. As founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she travels the country, engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights. Five decades since the creation of the UFW, Huerta still works tirelessly, developing new leaders and advocating for the working poor, women, and children. She speaks regularly to students and organizations across the United States and abroad about issues of social justice and public policy.
Huerta has received numerous awards and honors for her activism and community service including the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton, The Puffin Foundation's Award for Creative Citizenship, the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom Award, and The Smithsonian Institution's James Smithson Award, among many others.
Ms. Magazine named Huerta One of the Three Most Important Women of l997 and Ladies Home Journal listed her as one of the 100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century. She has nine Honorary Doctorates from universities throughout the United States and Huerta, mother of 11 children, was inducted to the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 2012, President Obama bestowed Huerta with her most prestigious award, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Upon receiving this award Huerta said, "The freedom of association means that people can come together in organization to fight for solutions to the problems they confront in their communities. The great social justice changes in our country have happened when people came together, organized, and took direct action. It is this right that sustains and nurtures our democracy today. The civil rights movement, the labor movement, the women's movement, and the equality movement for our LGBT brothers and sisters are all manifestations of these rights."