Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Being the change –

Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association, Dolores Huerta(Cq) is one of the most influential labor activists of the 20th century and a leader of the Chicano civil rights movement. Here she poses for a portrait during an interview for the .
Albuquerque, New Mexico/ Roberto E. Rosales/

Copyright © 2022

“¡Sí, Se Puede!” is the motto of the United Farm Workers of America.

César Chávez and Dolores Huerta were the driving force behind the activist group that fought to make change for the workers.

Fifty years later, the work hasn’t stopped for Huerta, who continues the civil rights fight.

On Saturday, Huerta will take part in the Recuerda César Chávez and Dolores Huerta Celebration at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This year’s event, which starts at 8:30 am, pays tribute to essential workers on the front line of the pandemic.

Huerta says that when she and Chávez organized farm workers, it was to empower them.

Unlike in the movie about his life, it took three years just to get started on that work.

“(The biggest challenge) was convincing them that this was never going to change unless they changed it,” Huerta says. “They are the ones that had to step up. They had to fight for their rights. And they did. That’s what we were successful in.”

The Dolores Huerta Foundation continues to lead the fight for rights.

Huerta says the foundation still meets with people in their homes and helps them work to improve their living conditions.

“You can’t wait for someone to come and do it for you. You have to do it for yourself. And so that message is still very, very strong,” Huerta says. “Because we know our country is going through a lot of turmoil right now, in the United States, we have a lot of division. And we have a lot of inequities. So this message of empowerment is exactly what César and I were doing, and what I continue to do it with my foundation is talking to people in their communities and organizing them so that they can then do the jobs that need to be done into the terms of getting their communities right.”

Huerta, 91, was born in Dawson and spends her time in Bakersfield, California.

She often travels back to New Mexico to see family and friends, because the state holds a special place in her heart.

“New Mexico is always a healing journey,” she says. “There’s something about New Mexico, I don’t know what it is – the people, or the ambience, or the weather. Something about the climate here, that is also very healing. It’s not only physically, but mentally, spiritually healing. I was always a sickly child, growing up in California, and my mother sent me one summer to live here with my dad, who was here in Albuquerque. And so I spent the whole summer here with my dad, and I never got sick again. It’s very healing every time I come here, I just get reinspired and rejuvenated.”

According to the city of Albuquerque, the event will be livestreamed on the Recuerda a César Chávez website and Facebook page so that the public can safely observe all the activities in store.

Attendance will be limited.

In-person event highlights include a car show, blood drive, health screenings, work glove donations, presentation of the Sí Se Puede Awards, a performance by Latin band Nosotros, and many other cultural activities and performances.

“It’s so important to remember our city’s legacy of community leadership, and lift up their mission to create equitable opportunity,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement. “The fight for labor and civil rights did not pause when the pandemic hit and is as critical today as ever. We’re grateful for our partners and Albuquerque advocates who are keeping the fight alive and making progress happen.”

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