A legendary labor leader.
A Civil Rights Activist.
Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
Mother of eleven.
91-year-old Dolores Huerta has done it all.
This week, she joins Elex Michaelson on The Issue Is to discuss her life, her work with the likes of Cesar Chavez and Bobby Kennedy, the California recall election, her heroes and inspirations, and her advice for the next generation of activists.
THE ISSUE IS: STARTING A LIFELONG FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE
HUERTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Well, as a woman of color, you face that injustice growing up, you have it on the streets when police stop to harass you, you have it in the school system where the teachers were not very supportive and they look down and make life difficult for you, and so you fight this racial discrimination growing up and it really it hurts you… At the same time, you want to do something about changing it. We know that all of this comes back from slavery - you know, the indigenous people of our North American and South American continent were the first slaves before they brought slaves from Africa - and we're still trying to get over that legacy of slavery, which is domination and racial discrimination, you know, even discrimination against women, discrimination against children... It all stems from our legacy that we have of slavery…"
THE ISSUE IS: CALIFORNIA VOTERS REJECT THE RECALL
HUERTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It really shows that people in California, unlike the rest of some parts of our country, that they really stand up for the things that the Governor has done... Being able to get stimulus checks for undocumented people. He recently signed a bill that people over 50 years of age that are undocumented will be able to get covered by our California health coverage bill, our Medical... He's out there in front of everybody in terms of the global warming, that we've got to realize that climate change is a reality and that we have all of these forest fires and people are suffering from the drought... our farm workers are out there having to try to pick food every day out there, not only in the hot sun, but also having to work while they're masked, then trying to breathe when we have all of the smoke that is coming from the forest fires... He is a very progressive person and he's standing up for the values that people in CA have, which is getting more support, more resources, especially for our low-income communities, for our communities of color, and also being out there in front in terms of trying to contain and control the COVID-19 pandemic…"
THE ISSUE IS: BOBBY KENNEDY’S ASSASSINATION AND LEGACY
HUERTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Senator Kennedy was a big supporter of the Farm Workers Union. He would come out and do fundraisers for us, he helped us raise money so we could get a clinic in Delano for the farm workers because the local doctors really did not take care of the farm workers, did not give them the good kind of medical attention that they needed... When we lost him, it was a very tragic circumstance for all of us, because when you had somebody that was as powerful and as caring, you know, one thing about Robert Kennedy, I like to say this about not only him, but Ted Kennedy also, and the Kennedy family, Kerry Kennedy, and all of his children, that continue the legacy of doing good works and helping people that need help, that they always bring you in through to the front door, not the back door - that's the way that the Senator was, he didn't say, 'I know what's good for you,' he would say, 'how can I help you? What do you need?'... It was a setback for the entire country, not only for the farm workers and the labor movement, but the entire country. Our country, I think is still suffering from his loss…"
THE ISSUE IS: BEING AWARDED THE PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM IN 2012
HUERTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "That was a very humbling moment, because I know I received that medal on the backs of farmworker martyrs, we had five people that were killed during the farm worker movement, just to get the basic human rights for farmworkers. We had hundreds that were beaten, that went to jail to get their basic human rights, people who lost their homes, so it was on the backs of all those people that I received that medal... Of course I was very grateful, very honored, but also very humbled…"
THE ISSUE IS: ADVICE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF ACTIVISTS
HUERTA’S CENTRAL TAKE: "First of all, I want to thank them, all the people that have been marching and protesting with the #MeToo Movement, the young people that are marching against gun violence, and, of course, immigrant rights, and everything that's been happening right now... Whatever we're fighting for, it's got to be put into a law that can be implemented, that can be enforced, and where people can be held accountable. So sometimes we think, 'well, I already march, I protested, and that's all that I have to do.' No. We've got to go out there and elect progressive people to our local school board or city council, our state legislature and, of course, our Congress, because what we want to happen, yes, we need to have universal health care, yes, we need to have free college education - we are the richest country in the world - but the only way that we can get that is that we're the ones that have to go out there and advocate for it, and fight for it, and elect people to our legislature, our Congress, that are going to get that for us, for the people that need education, people that need resources... We can make it happen, but we're the ones that have to go out there and do it…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.