Dolores Huerta, an activist for civic engagement and labor, LGBTQ and immigrant rights and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, held a discussion panel concerning activism and organization at Bovard Auditorium on Tuesday.
During the panel, Huerta discussed her career as an activist and what helping others meant to her. Huerta has received several honors, including nine honorary doctorates, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
Huerta spoke of the changing U.S. political climate and pushed for discontent people not to lose hope, but instead to unite and advocate for the causes they care about.
“Don’t mourn, organize,” Huerta said. “Organizing does work.”
Huerta’s foundation often takes a grassroots approach to organizing. She said that by forming groups of people galvanized by like-minded efforts, more people would come forth to advocate.
“We have people elected to office who don’t believe [in climate change], that it’s a hoax, that it’s not true, so we have to make sure that we are able to get our voices heard,” Huerta said. “We have to let these people know that they are making the laws we care about.”
Currently, Huerta and the rest of the foundation are promoting Proposition SB 54, which would make California a sanctuary state. Huerta encouraged the audience to support the proposition and show compassion to undocumented immigrants.
Huerta also advocated for Proposition 47, a criminal justice initiative proposed to reduce classification of most nonviolent property and drug crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.
“She gave not just a lot of inspiration, but concrete ideas of how students and community members can make a difference,” said Billy Vela, director of El Centro Chicano.
Andra Astorga, a freshman majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies, ,shared Vela’s sentiment.
“I definitely feel like it’s not as hard as we make it seem to actually get involved in the community and make a difference,” Astorga said.
Huerta emphasized the importance of working together to create a difference.
“I know sometimes it feels a little helpless, but I have to tell you that in my own experience, and I’ve been an organizer since I was 25 years old, that organizing does work,” Huerta said.
Vela also said that he hopes to invite more activists onto campus in the future. He also said that El Centro Chicano plans to host a film screening of Dolores, a movie set to release next fall about Huerta’s life.
“It’s a great opportunity to partner with more folks and faculty and students so we can bring even more folks to hear her message, in particular students who have a different perspective on politics,” Vela said. “There’s so much work that needs to be done across the aisle.”
Tomás Mier contributed to this report.