Former Cesar Chavez partner gives lecture to round out month

    Co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America Delores Huerta spoke Tuesday at the Institute of the Americas to mark the end of Cesar Chavez Month.

    Lyon Liew

    Huerta, 69, is the mother of 11 children and travels around the country for farm workers’ rights, women’s rights and civil rights causes.

    Huerta is the emeritus vice-president of the United Farm Workers. She and Chavez brought farm workers’ rights national attention by transforming a local union into a major social and political movement. Huerta spoke of her organized boycott on grapes and lettuce during the 1960s.

    Thurgood Marshall College student Margarita Sanchez said her mother supported the boycott.

    “”It was a great opportunity to hear [Huerta] speak,”” she said.

    “”I became more aware of what’s going on around us and how we can make a difference by taking action,”” said Marshall junior Belen Sanchez.

    Huerta said that although great strides have been made, there are still undocumented workers who are being exploited. She gave examples about Mexican farm workers in California’s Kern County. The county’s largest city is Bakersfield, Calif.

    This year is the 40th anniversary of the UFW and is the second year of official Cesar Chavez Day celebrations at UCSD.

    The month’s activities included lectures by California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, professor Antonia Darder of Claremont Graduate School, and professor Vicki Ruiz of UC Irvine. There was also a film presentation, a panel discussion at the Cross Cultural Center, a Thurgood Marshall College cultural celebration, a youth scholarship essay contest, a student field trip to Chicano Park and a monthlong UCSD Bookstore display.

    Huerta discussed the importance of voting and representation in politics.

    “”There has been progress, but racism still exists in our society,”” she said.

    Huerta is also a member of the Feminist Majority, which she said is working to bring attention to women’s lives in Afghanistan. She also discussed domestic issues concerning women.

    Huerta noted the importance of higher education.

    “”Think of a diploma as to how can I serve my community,”” she said.

    Huerta spoke about the importance of government funding to community colleges and urged students to write letters to Gov. Gray Davis.

    “”When money to community colleges is cut, it hurts working-class people,”” Huerta said.

    Huerta talked about the politics of globalization and corporate exploitation of laborers in Mexico and the problems with North American Free Trade Agreement and jobs going overseas.

    “”Profits come out of a country and don’t stay there,”” she said. “”We need a movement for economic justice.””

    Huerta also discussed the young women who work in the maquiladoras in Juarez, Mexico, where 270 women have allegedly been either raped or murdered while going home from work.

    “”It is a frightening kind of world where there is corporate domination and no responsibility,”” she said.

    Huerta also spoke about the importance of respecting all people in a society.

    “”We have to honor people who work with their hands,”” she said.

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