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City renames elementary school in honor of civil rights leader Dolores Huerta

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Parents, students, teachers and city leaders celebrated on May 17 the newly named Dolores Huerta Elementary School at the corner of 65 Chenery Street.

In August 2018 the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously approved the school’s change of name from Fairmount Elementary School to Dolores Huerta Elementary School in honor of labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, who worked alongside Cesar Chavez during the Delano grape strike that began in California and affected large cities throughout the country. The purpose of the 1965 boycott was to force grape growers in California to improve the working conditions of their farmworkers, negotiate union contracts and provide better pay.

“It is a change that I’ve been thinking for a long time,” said SF Board of Education Vice President Mark Sanchez. “I couldn’t be happier. I grew up in the ‘70s honoring the strikes. I never ate a grape growing up. I still haven’t eaten grapes because of that. It’s embedded in my mind. I grew up understanding this movement.” During the celebration of the school’s new name, around 300 students chanted Huerta’s phrase, “Si se puede” (often mistakenly attributed to Cesar Chavez), as she stood at the podium.

“To me it’s a great honor to have the school named after me, especially since I grew up in Stockton about 70 miles from here,” Huerta said, as she stood in front of a freshly painted mural of herself on campus. “We would come to San Francisco since I was a teenager and having worked on the boycott, having suffered the beating of the police, it’s like a recompense. It’s a very humbling experience. I’m very grateful.”

Story by: Alejandro Galicia Diaz