In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, HispanicBusiness is highlighting groups, individuals and events that have had a significant influence on the U.S. Hispanic community.
Dolores Huerta, born April 10, 1930, in Dawson, N.M., grew up in California's agricultural San Joaquin Valley, where her mother owned a restaurant and a hotel that often let farmworkers stay free.
Ms. Huerta received a teaching degree from the University of the Pacific's Delta Community College, and became an elementary school teacher. She saw that her students - - many of them children of farmworkers -- were living in poverty. This led her to become a founding member of the Stockton chapter of the Community Services Organization (CSO), which opposed segregation and lobbied for better conditions for farmworkers.
She helped create the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) and co-founded the association that later became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) with fellow activist Cesar Chavez.
In 1973, the UFW began a nationwide consumer boycott of California grapes, lettuce and Gallo wines that resulted in the California table-grape growers signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the UFW. Another boycott resulted in passage of the U.S. Agricultural Labor Relations Act, giving farmworkers the right to organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions.
In 2012, President Obama presented Ms. Huerta with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest award for civilians. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Photo by Eric Guo.
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