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UTPA to host civil rights advocate Feb. 28
By Melissa C. Rodriguez, Public Affairs Specialist
316-7192
Posted: 02/23/2005
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Dolores Huerta, best known for her role in the American civil rights movement, will speak at The University of Texas-Pan American Student Union Theater Monday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Huerta, co-founder and first vice president emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW), is the mother of 11 children, 20 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.


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Dolores Huerta
“Huerta will speak about her personal experiences and obstacles she overcame during her childhood,” Edna Zambrano, assistant director of the Student Union, said. “She will also share the history of the farm workers' struggles in the United States.”

Zambrano said Rio Grande Valley residents, as well as UTPA students, may be able to relate to her personal story and gain insight from her experiences.

“Attendees will gain a sense of history about Mexican-Americans in the United States and will also learn how a woman with 11 children was able to balance her family responsibilities, while being an advocate for civil rights,” Zambrano said.

Huerta received a teaching degree, but after teaching grammar school for a while she left her job. In her words, “I couldn’t stand seeing kids come to class hungry and in need of shoes. I thought I could do more by organizing farm workers than trying to teach their hungry children.”

Huerta started lobbying in the 1950s and soon joined with Cesar Chavez to form the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor to the UFW. For more than 30 years Huerta remained Chavez’ adviser and together they founded the Robert Kennedy Farm Workers Medical Plan, the Juan De La Cruz Farm Workers Pension Fund, the Farm Workers Credit Union and the National Farm Workers Communications organization with five Spanish radio stations.

In the 1970s, Huerta directed a boycott which resulted in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, the first law of its kind in the United States which granted farm workers the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.

She has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and also received the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award, Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, and the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom Award, among others. In 1998, she was one of three Ms. Magazine’s “Women of the Year” and the Ladies Home Journal’s “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.” In 1998, Huerta also received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from President Clinton and honorary doctorate degrees from New College of California, 1990, San Francisco State University, 1993 and State University of New York at New Paltz, 1999.

Today, Huerta is a board member for the Fund for the Feminist Majority that advocates for the political and equal rights for women. She is also president of the newly established Dolores Huerta Foundation, whose mission is to establish “Communities of Conscience” focusing on community organizing and leadership training in low-income under-represented communities.

The event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Student Union and the University Program Board’s Hello World Committee, which organizes activities to inform students about world issues.

For more information about the event, call 956/381-2266.

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