Tonight, the Portrait Gallery will welcome Dolores Huerta, who will speak with curator Taína Caragol about her life and activism.
Huerta was an instrumental figure in the farm workers’ movement of the 1960s and 70s. A talented organizer, she encouraged unions to use strikes as fundamental pressure tactics against employers. One of her more famous strikes began in September 1965, several months after a grape strike in the Coachella Valley had granted grape-pickers an increase in salaries within a week.
Inspired by the success, the mostly Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) decided to strike for higher wages in the town of Delano, CA. There, growers seemed less likely to give in quickly, as the harvest lasted longer in the San Joaquin Valley. Also, many of the workers in the valley were affiliated with the primarily Mexican NFWA instead of the AWOC.
Looking for strength in numbers, Larry Itliong, president of the AWOC, asked Huerta, César Chávez and the National Farm Workers Association to collaborate. On September 16, Mexican Independence Day, the NFWA voted unanimously to strike with the AWOC. The ensuing group was ethnically and culturally diverse, also including African American, Puerto Rican, and Arab farm workers. The strike lasted five years.
Learn more about this strike as well as Huerta’s life and career tonight at 7 p.m. in the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. For more information, visit our website.