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Dolores Huerta, Iconic Labor Rights Activist, Returns to Seton Hall  

 Dolores Huerta has worked for labor rights and social justice for more than 50 years.

Dolores Huerta has worked for labor rights and social justice for more than 50 years.

It was the summer of 1972. A group of Latino labor and political leaders were in a small room with the co-founders of the United Farm Workers union, trying to convey that the grower lobby that dominated state politics was so powerful, it could not be beaten. "No, no se puede!" ("No, no it can't be done!") they repeated – to which one woman responded, "Si, si se puede!" ("Yes, yes it can be done!").  

On that day, a rallying cry was born – and the woman who used it to empower the masses is coming to Seton Hall for a very special event.

On Sunday, October 20, the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute will welcome iconic labor rights activist Dolores Huerta as its Speaker Series guest for 2019. The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. in Jubilee Hall Auditorium. Tickets are $7 for students and $15 for faculty, staff and general admission. Children 12 and under are free. The event will be live recorded for a subsequent episode of the podcast Latina to Latina. Click here for more information and to register.

A civil rights activist and community organizer, Huerta has worked for labor rights and social justice for more than 50 years. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. She served as vice president and played a critical role in many of the union's accomplishments for four decades. 

Huerta first visited Seton Hall in 1974. Here, she stands with Archbishop Peter Gerety (left) and Monsignor Thomas Fahy (right).

Huerta first visited Seton Hall in 1974. Here, she stands with Archbishop Peter Gerety (left) and Monsignor Thomas Fahy (right).

Huerta is no stranger to the Seton Hall campus. In the 1970s, the UFW was particularly active in their advocacy for the rights of migrant farm workers, with collective action against non-union lettuce and other vegetables, as well as a recurring grape strike, that continued throughout the decade. During this time, they grew a base of support from politicians and fellow activists, as well as religious support from different faith traditions, most prominently the Catholic Church. So integral was their support that in 1974, Seton Hall held its inaugural Migrant Symposium, which brought together community and social leaders in their support of the UFW and migrant workers. The University invited Chavez to speak, but he could not attend for medical reasons. Huerta spoke at the event in his place. 

"We are happy to express solidarity with the aims of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, as well as other individuals and organizations who are trying to better conditions of farm workers in this state and throughout our country," said Monsignor Thomas Fahy, then president of Seton Hall, as cited by the December 1974 edition of the UFW's newsletter, El Malcriado.  

Nearly 30 years later, Huerta received the Puffin/Nation $100,000 prize for Creative Citizenship, which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF). DHF connects groundbreaking community-based organizing to state and national movements to register and educate voters, advocate for education reform, bring about infrastructure improvements in low-income communities, advocate for greater equality for the LGBT community, and create strong leadership development. She has received numerous awards, among them the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Clinton in 1998. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Huerta with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Headshot of Dolores Huerta"More than ever, it is important that we reaffirm the Catholic Church's support for the rights and dignity of workers. This event, which brings Delores Huerta back to the Seton Hall campus after 45 years, is a fitting bookend to Hispanic Heritage Month," said Peter Shoemaker, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Dolores Huerta has spent a lifetime working for social justice.  She has stood up for immigrants, worker rights and women," adds Vanessa May, Ph.D., co-executive director of the Edwin R. Lewinson Center for the Study of Labor, Inequality and Social Justice; associate professor; and specialist in labor and gender history. "Her years of activism have made ordinary people's lives better in concrete ways. She is a living testament to the power of individual action against oppressive systems, and we are beyond proud to have her visit Seton Hall University."

Moderating the event on October 20 is journalist and multimedia storyteller Alicia Menendez. Named "Broadcast Journalism's New Gladiator" by Elle Magazine, "Ms. Millennial" by the Washington Post, and a "Content Queen" by Marie Claire, Menendez has quickly become a force in American media. She currently co-hosts Amanpour & Co., a global affairs show which airs on PBS and CNN, and is the host of the podcast Latina to Latina. She is also a contributing editor at Bustle, the largest media property for Millennial women.

This event is co-sponsored by the Edwin R. Lewinson Center for the Study of Labor, Inequality and Social Justice; the Division of Student Services; the Provost's Office; the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research, and Development (CHPRD); the Office of International Programs; Adelante, and the Latina to Latina podcast.

The Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute at Seton Hall University advances, educates, and transforms students into the next generation of servant leaders in our ever-changing global society. With the Institute's support and guidance, students can fulfill their potential as servant leaders through cultural programming designed to build stronger linkages to their heritage but also through education, academic scholarship, mentorship, skill development and critical thinking. The Institute's Speaker Series is an annual program that promotes interdisciplinary knowledge and features extraordinary speakers who have a deep sense of identity and connection to Latino culture and history.

Categories: Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Ana Campoverde
  • (973) 761-9422
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