After starting off on a career as a school teacher, Dolores Huerta turned to teaching farmworkers about human rights and helped organize the fledgling United Farm Workers Union. She became the Vice President of the union and established a worldwide reputation as an organizer and advocate for non-violent protest.
A quiet woman full of fierce determination, Dolores came to California from New Mexico as a child with her mining and farmworking family. As someone who knew firsthand the inhumane conditions under which many farmworkers labored, she set out to bring about needed change. She relentlessly worked to get consumers around the world to demand their produce come from farms where collective bargaining agreements spelled out decent working conditions for those who picked the crops.
Dolores was one of the architects of the UFW policy of non-violence. This policy was a key factor in building international support in the 1960s for the farmworker cause. It helped turn what could have been a localized labor dispute into a worldwide moral crusade. Today, nearly four decades after she began working with the late Cesar Chavez, Dolores remains a powerful source of inspiration to those who aspire for justice.
Dolores was at the Farmworker Office in Salinas, California. Shortly after I arrived, I looked into a storage room and saw a lot of placards, one in particular caught my eye. The photo was taken in that storage room, because of the darkness, I had to take the time to set up the proper lighting. It had been recommended to me that I should take her picture in the fields, but I refused because that didn’t say anything. I left that afternoon for another meeting in San José at the Mayor’s office. Because of the travel time between Salinas and San José, I arrived late. To my surprise the meeting had not yet started, and I was further surprised to hear that Cesar Chavez had just passed away.