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Dolores Huerta 10/19/02 - Activist Dolores Huerta speaks to community activists outside Los Angeles City Hall, October 2002. (Photo credit: Aurelia Ventura/La Opinion/NewsCom)

Dolores Huerta Still at Work

Respect for each other and our cultures will lead to peace and justice, she says

By Daniel Wetter | September 18 , 2009

Dolores Huerta is a 79-year-old great-grandmother who helped found the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the 1960s. Her list of accomplishments is too long to list here in full, but it includes induction into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award presented by then-President Bill Clinton. Also, four elementary schools around the nation are named after her.

But there's another reason not to list all her awards and achievements—she's not done. Huerta, who is also head of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, is currently making speeches about health care legislation, and is continuing to fight for civil rights for immigrants and migrant workers through the UFW. That work will never end, she says.

"We reached some of the goals," Huerta told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps recently. "I think there's always going to be a need [for the UFW]."

Huerta's community work has long been based on her philosophy of personal responsibility. Her goal is to help individuals understand their own personal power, and the power of a united community to create change. Huerta said she derives much of her own personal pride and power from her culture.

"The Latinos have always been a part of the United States of America," she said. "We are now living in a global world, and it is important that we know about other people’s cultures and respect other people's cultures."

Huerta's respect extends to workers of all kinds because they are so vital to the United States. The former teacher has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of workers who do not always have anyone to stand up for them.

Her reach extends back decades; her influence and non-violent philosophy has made her a legend akin to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Everyone can be a peacemaker, Huerta says. She recommends that you participate in your local government and if you have an opinion, to share it with your local congressman. Anyone and everyone can get involved in an organization that helps other communities.

"You can’t have a democracy if you don’t participate," she concluded.

To read more Hispanic Heritage Month stories, click here.

About the Author

Daniel Wetter is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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