We watched an inspiring documentary on the life and work of United Farm Workers Co-Founder Dolores Huerta.
I've been in California all my life, and I barely remember her role in the UFW. In fact, I remember thinking the grape boycott and subsequent boycott of Safeway grocery stores was sort of a joke. This is how very little I knew about what they were fighting for. This is how effective the people in power were, they made sure that we knew little, and what little we did know was inconsequential. The media was on the side of the growers, not the workers. The workers and organizers were painted with the broad brush of communism. And that was that.
This documentary on PBS' Independent Lens is a breathtaking look at the depth and breadth of her tireless work to help the people who pick our crops and put food on our tables. Her forty years of activism did not end when she retired from the UFW -- she went on to receive a large grant and go back to grass roots organizing, helping farmer workers understand their rights and empowering them to move forward to better lives.
The film is another story of the way in which women are side-lined in history; their stories untold despite lives and work of great courage.
I did get to see her once at the university where I was working. She spoke at a small auditorium on campus and I remember being impressed with her energy and intellect. But even then, I didn't quite understand who she was or her history in the fight for justice for farm workers. I wish I had known. I would have tried to shake her hand and thank her for her tireless efforts.
The UFW secured basic rights for workers: fresh water to drink during their day where temperatures could be in the 110 degree range, toilets in the fields, harvesting methods that were kinder to the body, and sick time and vacation leave. Amazing. Things we all take for granted.
Grab a chance to see this film. It's two hours you'll never forget. Now I'm onto other films about her work.