Dolores Huerta


Dolores Huerta


Labor and women's rights activism


Labor activist whose work creating the United Farm Workers Union gave a disenfranchised group of laborers a voice in work relations


Amy French


Image: Wiki Commons

Birth Date



Dawson, New Mexico, USA


Labor leader and civil rights activist

Biographical Text

Dolores Clara Fernandez was born in 1930 in a small mining town in New Mexico to parents who undoubtedly influenced her later in life. Her mother, Alicia Chavez, was an entrepreneur whom Dolores credits with planting the seeds for her union organizing skills and her feminism. Her father, Juan Fernandez, was a farm worker and miner, who was also a union activist and ran for political office. Her parents divorced when she was a toddler and Dolores was raised in California with her mother.

Engaged in community activism in high school, Dolores went to the University of Pacific’s Delta College in Stockton where she earned teaching credentials. She continued that activism after marrying Ralph Head and birthing two daughters by becoming part of the leadership of the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO). While working the CSO, she founded the Agricultural Workers Association, fought for improvements to Hispanic neighborhoods, and encouraged voter registration.

In 1955, she met Cesar Chavez. The two shared a vision for organizing farm workers and they created the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which became the United Farm Workers Union.

Some of Huerta’s accomplishments were:
• Coined the phrase, Si, se puede (yes, we can) which inspired President Obama’s campaign slogan
• Securing Aid For Dependent Families and disability insurance for farm workers in California in 1963
• Working to enact Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 (first law of its kind granted farm workers in California right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions)
• Has helped elect numerous Democratic candidates to office, including Bobby Kennedy, President Clinton, Governor Jerry Brown, and Hillary Clinton
• Helped direct the first National Boycott of California Table Grapes
• Crossed the country for two years encouraging Latinas to run for office
• Served as the National Chair of the 21st Century Party founded on the principles that women make up 52% of the party’s candidates and that officers must reflect that Dolores

Huerta has won numerous awards including the highest civilian award in the United States—The Presidential Medal of Freedom. Huerta was an extraordinarily influential advocate for farmworkers, but later in her life she took a leave of absence from labor activism to fight for women's rights. She encouraged Hispanic women to run for political office; her campaign resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of women representatives at local, state, and federal levels. Huerta continues to advocate for women, children, and the working poor.


De Ruiz, Dana Catherine and Richard Larios. La Causa: The Migrant Farmworkers' Story. (Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1992).

Dunne, John Gregory. Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike. (Farrar, 1976).

Dolores Huerta: Civil Rights Icon

National Parks Service

Smithsonian Website

Video on Huerta

Also see, National Women's History Museum:

Dolores Huerta Foundation:


Date Added
June 8, 2014
Reform (Social or Labor)
Item Type
, ,
Amy French, “Dolores Huerta,” Women Who Dared, accessed May 22, 2024,