Blog #15: The Dolores Huerta Interview You Never Got to Hear
I first interviewed iconic labor leader and feminist activist Dolores Huerta back in 2014 pegged to the release of the film Cesar Chavez, an American labor leader and civil rights activist who worked alongside Huerta and inspired millions of Americans to fight for social justice. The film was directed by Diego Luna and starred Michael Peña, America Ferrera, and Rosario Dawson -- who played Dolores Huerta. The more I looked into the farmworkers movement, the more I realized that Huerta was the unsung hero who deserved more recognition.
I was working for a big media news outlet at the time (to be remain unnamed) who accepted my pitch with slight hesitation. I thought a profile on Huerta was a complete no brainer but after interviewing her I was told the story was not going to run because she was “too much of a controversial figure”. I regretfully accepted this defeat because I didn’t feel like I could go above my manager’s head or go to anyone else in the newsroom to help me get this interview up. It felt impossible. I backed down and have felt like crap ever since. That is, until now.
I, along with my partner-in-crime Nathalie Farfan who is the second half of the Morado Lens Podcast, recently interviewed Dolores Huerta in person as she did the rounds to promote a documentary on her life, Dolores, directed by Carlos Santana. Not only did we do a podcast interview with her but now I felt like I finally had a chance to tell her story. She talked about why it took so long for her documentary to come to fruition, being a mother of eleven children and why it’s okay for women to ask for help and make mistakes.
She’s a part of history and I need future generations to know about her contributions to the labor movement and how she is still going strong till this day! She founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation where she travels around the country to help develop leaders and advocate for the working poor, women and children. Did you know Huerta was the one who came up with the iconic “Si se puede!” chant? Yup, the one Obama used for his 2008 campaign.
But in that 2014 interview she told me about how many people still don’t know that the efforts of the National Farm Workers Association, now known as the United Farm Workers union. There are many farmworkers around the country that still pick our produce today that aren’t granted fair wages let alone proper working conditions. And, this issue hits even closer to home as over one-quarter of the farmhands are unauthorized immigrant workers. Huerta went into NAFTA and how they are responsible for the displacement of immigrants in the United States. Listen to her talk about it here:
In the recently released documentary Dolores, they go into all the sacrifices she had to make for the National Farm Workers Association. She's been beating up, even kidnapped, and hospitalized for fighting for farm workers rights. Basically, if you've never heard of her but you've always wondered where your food comes from and who helps grow and harvest it and under what conditions, then you should watch this film. Most importantly, how one woman made such a huge impact on the lives of so many people! One thing she said that motivated me to even write this was this:
But I should warn you that a couple of things will happen after you watch this:
1. You will get upset, perhaps really upset
2. You might not know what to do with all of those emotions because you see yourself in these people. They look like you and came to this country with the same dreams as you and your family. Because when I learned even more about her efforts and all the work that they did but that these laws and unions only impact a very small portion of the United States, I felt helpless. But the fact that she keeps going only inspires you. But all is not lost, you can help join in their efforts here.
If you haven’t watched Dolores, you should. She’s still doing tours around the country and you can check on that schedule here.
I can’t fully articulate how grateful I am to have interviewed her in then, being able to publish our podcast with her and this blog now. Everything truly came full circle. Dolores Huerta inspires me to do more, be better and not be afraid to make room for myself in a world that doesn’t always welcome me.