After a lifetime of social activism and civil rights advocacy, legendary organizer Dolores Huerta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 29, one of the highest civilian honours awarded by the President of the United States.
UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley joined activists and labour leaders from around the globe in congratulating Huerta by saying, “Sister Huerta is an exceptional individual. Her courageous work and activism have helped improve the working conditions for thousands of workers. She is more than deserving of this award.”
Dolores, now 82, has been an influential labour leader and advocate for farm worker rights since the 1960s.
Sister Huerta’s countless years of determination and commitment to progressing labour and civil rights has delivered historical achievements for the international labour movement. Partnering with friend and fellow activist César Chávez, Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers Association while serving as the Vice President of the United Farm Workers. Huerta says her greatest accomplishments include: achieving Spanish-language ballots for voters, creating public assistance programs for immigrants, introducing washroom facilities for farm workers while on their job sites, developing an immigration act that gave over a million farm workers legal status and implementing health and safety standards for drinking water.
While her long list of accomplishments is extraordinary, the announcement came as a surprise to Huerta who expressed, “I was humbled, thrilled and surprised. I never expected to be nominated.” Huerta received the Presidential Medal of Freedom alongside 12 others including Bob Dylan and Madeleine Albright.
Throughout her 50 years of trailblazing activism, Sister Huerta has been severely beaten by police officers and arrested twenty-two times for her protests and lobbying efforts. Despite the resistance met by government and corporate officials Dolores fearlessly continued her pursuit for great social justice and equality. Sister Huerta’s legacy will continue to inspire and encourage labour activists around the world to demand justice for all workers.