Mission honors Dolores Huerta for receiving award
The Mission paid tribute to Dolores Huerta for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was given to her directly by the President.
On the afternoon of Sept. 30, a charity event was held in the name of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, celebrating the prize awarded the activist this past May 29.
“Each time that celebrating the medal was discussed I thought, ‘Well, I want it to be here in the Mission,’” Huerta said upon taking the microphone. “Sometimes people forget about the Mission, and it is one of the oldest and important areas of San Francisco.”
The event, which relied on the participation of community members and various public figures, took place at the Mission Language and Vocational School, located at 2929 19th St. It commenced with a ceremonial Aztecan dance performed by the Mission dance ensemble Xitalli, after which the words of recognition began.
“It’s the highest award a civilian can receive in this country. … She honored the medal by accepting it,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
State Senator Mark Leno delivered a proclamation to Huerta from the California Senate.
“In the State Senate, on the city’s Administration Board, in Congress, in the streets, in our community organizations, wherever we find ourselves, we all know that Dolores Huerta is our moral compass and our social conscience,” Leno said.
The atmosphere of the celebration was joyous and festive, and those who were present reveled in drinking sangria and enjoying various dishes. Music for the event was provided by a women’s mariachi group.
“Not all of us could make it to Washington, and we wanted to be part of this tribute locally,” explained Patricia Lebrón, who works in support of farm workers’ rights. “The medal was not given to only one person, but instead has recognized organized labor and our fight in this country for the rights of everyone, regardless of status.”
The event in Huerta’s honor was the fruit of the collective efforts of Lebrón, Eva Royale and Beth Mosleny, organizers of Cesar Chavez Day, Ana Cervantes of United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and Rosario Anaya, director of the Mission Language and Vocational School.
Dolores Huerta is known as a champion of agricultural workers, a labor leader, a feminist and a defender of gay rights. She began her career as an activist in 1955 in Stockton, California when she helped found the Community Service Organization (CSO). She fought against segregation, registered voters and demanded improvements in public services. It was here that she first met Cesar Chavez, and in 1962 they formed the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later became part of the UFW.
“This recognition represents the support of many people who have worked so hard to help farm workers, to make changes, like for example same-sex marriage, and to fight for the civil rights of immigrants.” Huerta said. “So, I feel blessed because I receive the medal, but it’s with the support of thousands and thousands of people who work for social justice.”
—Translation Damon Bennett