Civil Rights Activist Huerta Speaks to Migrant Students
Friday, October 18, 2013
Civil Rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) Dolores Huerta urged students at Texas State Technical College on Friday to register to vote, organize and join the fight she's fronted for over 50 years.
Huerta spoke to nearly 100 migrant students at TSTC representing the HEP (High School Equivalency Program) and CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) during a luncheon at the college.
"There is so much work to do still," Huerta said. "But I know we're all up to do it."
Annette Gonzalez, 25, of Harlingen sat with her HEP classmates and listened as Huerta revved up the crowd and told anecdotes of her journeys.
Gonzalez dropped out of school in 2005 as a freshman to work as a migrant worker and help her family. The now mother of three recently enrolled in the HEP program at TSTC and hopes to receive her GED soon. Gonzalez plans to continue her education and eventually work for the United States Customs and Border Protection.
Gonzalez agreed with Huerta that education and community organization is the most effective way to make an impact.
Gonzalez worked on farms in the same communities in California like Delano, Stockton and Bakersfield, where Huerta and Chavez tirelessly led marches and pushed legislation to aid farm workers.
"I don't want my children to do the same work I did," Gonzalez said. "I want them to stay in school and get their education and be in positions where they can help others. Listening to and meeting Ms. Huerta was very inspiring."
In 1962, Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association with fellow activist Cesar Chavez. The association later became the UFW and Huerta has championed many causes ever since. Huerta still travels intensively to speak in support of farm worker and women's rights.
At TSTC, she addressed the migrant student contingent in the crowd but also spoke openly in support of a woman's right to choose, same-sex marriage and immigration reform. Huerta also spoke in opposition to voter ID laws.
Huerta recalled her days of working alongside Chavez and said their mission was simple: "We just wanted to remind people that they had power. The power is in our person. We have to come together with other people, take action and that's how you change things," Huerta said.
TSTC student David Alejandro Leija of San Benito, is pursuing an Associate's of Biology and said he left the luncheon inspired.
"It's really important to get the people in your community organized if you want to make a difference," the 19-year old Leija said.