Ty: Thank you for allowing me to be a guest blogger today at Written Voices. Today, in the Celebrate Women in Leadership series, I want to highlight labor leader and community organizer Delores Huerta.
Dolores Huerta, labor leader, social activist, and community organizer was the co-founder of the United Farm Workers. She started this organization with well-known activist Cesar Chavez in the 1950s. Raised in the central San Joaquin Valley community of Stockton, California, Huerta was well-known for her leadership the early years of farm worker organizing.
Migrant workers harvest fruits and vegetables but were often paid only nominal wages for excessive hours. In addition, they were often exposed to dangerous pesticides and often subjected to less than human living conditions. What I most admire is that Huerta made people aware of the terrible living and working conditions by organizing the community and articulating the impact and devastation.
In 1955, Huerta co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization, and in 1960 co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association. In 1965, Huerta directed the UFW national grape boycott taking the oppression of farm workers to the consumers. The boycott resulted in the California table grape industry signing an unprecedented three-year collective bargaining agreement. Like any good leader, she did not wait to be asked what to do. She just did what needed to be done. I really appreciate how she saw the problem, addressed the concerns, and collaborated with others to bring about solutions.
During the 1970s, Huerta headed up the farm workers’ union’s political arm and helped lobby for legislative protections. It was during this time that she also became connected with the growing feminist movement. She has been highly politically active, lobbying numerous California and federal laws including a 1960 bill to permit people to take the California driver’s examination in Spanish.
In September 1988 outside of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Huerta was severely beaten by San Francisco Police officers during a peaceful and lawful protest. This incident and her courageous survival sparked another change with law enforcement procedures. Even in the face of her life being threatened, I treasure that she stood up for her convictions. That’s true inspiration right there!
As an advocate for farm workers rights, Huerta has been arrested more than two dozen times for participating in non-violent civil disobedience activities and strikes. She remains active in progressive causes such as the Delores Huerta Foundation.
Her perseverance in the midst of the struggle resulted in the improved lives of migrant workers and resulted in equity. But more than anything she influenced others to be courageous and to be leaders against all odds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dawn McCoy is author of Leadership Building Blocks: An Insider’s Guide to Success. As one of the youngest elected African-American elected to the Sacramento City Unified School Board, McCoy shares seven leadership fundamentals in her book. Inspiring readers to be top in their field, Dawn shares her insights based upon twenty years serving as a nonprofit and government executive.
A motivational speaker, coach, and founder of Flourish Leadership Group, a leadership development and communications firm, Dawn is dedicated to transforming ordinary people into extraordinary leaders. In recent years, she has worked with organizations to develop their vision and create phenomenal results. Dawn has worked with hundreds of individuals to help them capture their spirit of leadership and truly become the effective leaders they were meant to be.
Read an excerpt online and visit the tour schedule at http://bit.ly/LeadershipBuildingBlocks.