Culture & Student Life

Dolores Huerta Speaks at VC Diversity Festival

It’s not very often that Ventura College gets paid a visit from a legend in American civil rights history. However, fortunately for us, this was the case last week at the VC Campus as a part of the annual Diversity in Culture festival. On April 13th, at the center of VC’s campus, civil rights activist Dolores Huerta was welcomed to the outdoor stage to address the community of Ventura.

The Diversity in Culture website gives a brief bio of the iconic activist:
“Dolores Huerta is a celebrated Latina, labor leader, activist, and community organizer. She has worked for civil rights and social justice for over 50 years. In 1962 sheet and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers Union. She served as vice president and played a crucial role in many of the union’s accomplishments for four decades”.

If you remember the campaign slogan, “Yes, we can!” used by President Obama in the 2008 election, you may have heard the original Spanish version, “Sí, se puede!”. Huerta was the one who coined the phrase in 1972 when told by people in Arizona that she could not get the farm workers to organize there. Her response to people saying –originally in Spanish– “you can’t do that here”, was “Yes, we can!”. This phrase became a staple of the Latinx community and is still used to this day as we continue to fight for equity for all.

During her time speaking at the VC festival, she encouraged us to keep our heads up despite the current political state of this country, which has left many Americans discouraged. Still, at 93 years old, Huerta continues her activism and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. One of her biggest pieces of advice to listeners was to VOTE! She reminded us to stay politically informed, vote, and get everyone we know to vote. This is one of the greatest ways we can use our voice to make the change we want.

At the end of her speech, a handful of VC students and club leaders were able to conduct a Q&A with Huerta. Here, she told more about her early life and her years spent organizing. One piece of advice that she gave especially stuck out to me. It was her urge for us to be patient. Huerta told about the tireless hours going house-to-house of the farm workers and explained to them her and Chavez’s goal. This required a huge amount of patience, however, this work is what ultimately led to the great success of the United Farm Workers campaign.

Lastly, at the end of her Q&A, attendees got the chance to do a quick meet and greet with Huerta and stop by her merch table to get some items. We here at VC and the city of Ventura are so lucky to have had the opportunity to have her in our presence. Especially since so many residents of Ventura County have strong ties to the farmworker community. This is an event that we will remember for a lifetime.

*All photos used in this article are property of the author.

By Jess Lopez

Hi! My name is Jess, I'm 23, and I enjoy all things creative. In May of 2022 I graduated from Cal Lutheran University with a BA in Film & Television, and I aspire to own my own production company one day. My top interests are writing, movies, business and finance, and pretty much anything queer.

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