Dolores Huerta "Huelga" during grape strike, Delano, California, Sept. 24, 1965. 

At 89 years old and barely 5 feet tall, Dolores Huerta, the legendary Latina icon and co-founder of the United Farm Workers, is tiny, but she commands a room effortlessly. Huerta visited Houston in conjunction with the exhibit Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields at the Holocaust Museum of Houston and revealed her current obsession: voting rights, especially for people of color. Her presence and quiet demeanor are still a reminder that although the fight for justice might have changed venues, it isn’t over.

“You’ve called me an icon, but I have to disagree. I’m not an icon, I’m an 'I can' and I think it is important that we all remember that,” Huerta told the audience. 

Huerta fought for the rights of farmworkers beginning in the 1960s, and her crusade as an activist and civil rights leader is chronicled in the latest exhibit which runs through February 16. The exhibition, which features bilingual text in English and Spanish, is on loan from the Smithsonian Institute. Not only is this the first photo exhibition of a living person the Holocaust Museum of Houston has put on, it is also the first of a Latina.

“It is so important what the museum is doing right now. They are teaching important lessons about the holocaust, about the civil rights movement, and women’s movement. This is one way we can erase the hate that is going on in our country,” said Huerta. “It is so important that people recognize the contributions women and people of color have made to our society.”

In addition to her work for farmworkers rights, the exhibit features photos from Huertas life as a mother of 11, a teacher, lobbyist, organizer, and contract negotiator. Although many recognize Cesar Chavez as the leader of the farmworker’s movement, Huerta’s contributions are often under-acknowledged.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Houston street artist Ignacio “El Nacho” Sanchez created a mural inspired by Huerta and her work. Titled “Huelga”, the mural is a brightly colored Aztec eagle which is the symbol of the United Farm Workers of America. Visitors can also download the bilingual Dolores Huerta mobile app which features videos and interviews with Huerta discussing her lifelong fight for farmworkers's rights.

“This exhibit tells the untold story of Dolores Huerta. It is important right now to have her voice heard, so that young people can learn from our past. That is the mission of this museum, to learn from the lessons of the past to make a better and more positive future,” said Michelle Tovar, Associate Director of Education at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. “This is a narrative that has not been reported—people know about Cesar Chavez, but they don’t know about Dolores Huerta.”

Runs through February 16 at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. Visit https://hmh.org/ for tickets or more information.

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