OLYMPIA – Today the Senate passed historic legislation to designate April 10 as Dolores Huerta Day as Ms. Huerta herself looked on.
House Bill 1906, sponsored by Rep. Lilian Ortiz-Self, honors Dolores Huerta, a feminist, civil rights activist and labor leader who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 and was instrumental in California’s adoption of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which granted farmworkers collective bargaining rights.
Huerta was at the Capitol today to participate in Latino Legislative Day activities with the Latino Civic Alliance. As she looked on from the gallery, several senators rose in support of the bill, which passed on a 44-0 vote.
From a humble background, Huerta pursued an education as a single mom and became a teacher. Dismayed by the poor living conditions of her students, the children of farm workers, she joined movements to improve living and working conditions of farm workers, and also challenged gender discrimination within those movements.
As a key leader and organizer of the farm worker’s rights movement, she fought against discrimination, stood up for the rights of women, advocated to bring dignity to farm workers, and emphasized the importance of building community. Over the years, she has worked on many issues, such as comprehensive immigration reform, income inequality, and the rights of women and those in the Latino community.
“Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role of women in American history, and Dolores Huerta is one of those women we recognize as instrumental in the fight for farm workers’ rights,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle). “Her story resonates with many women from underrepresented groups, and her work has paved the way for women like me in assuming leadership roles in their communities. This recognition sends a message about the importance of the leadership of women and people of color.”
“I am proud that Washington will now honor the legacy and recognize the remarkable life of a tireless worker, a passionate advocate and a true fighter,” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, who prime-sponsored the measure and effectively steered it through the legislative process to get it out of the House the first week of March. “A warrior whose unwavering quest for civil rights, equality and justice continue to make our nation a more perfect union. A woman who defiantly looked oppression in the eye and said, enough. A Latina who pushed other Latinas to seek positions of leadership. An American who taught us that together we can do great things. ¡Sí se puede!”
“Dolores Huerta is a true American icon,” said Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia). “Her leadership in establishing the United Farmworkers Union helped to lift up some of the lowest-paid workers, who make their living in backbreaking jobs harvesting our crops.”
HB 1906 passed the House on March 4 and now goes to the governor’s office to be signed into law.