NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

April 10th will henceforth be celebrated as Dolores Huerta Day in Washington State

In a unan­i­mous vote ear­li­er this week, the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate passed HB 1906, a mea­sure des­ig­nat­ing each April 10th as Dolores Huer­ta Day.

Huer­ta was in the wings to wit­ness the forty-four to zero vote, accom­pa­nied by the bil­l’s spon­sor, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lil­lian Ortiz-Self (the fea­tured speak­er at NPI’s 2016 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala on Mer­cer Island).

The leg­is­la­tion had pre­vi­ous­ly passed the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives over­whelm­ing­ly, with only a few mil­i­tant Repub­li­cans in oppo­si­tion.

Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee sub­se­quent­ly signed the bill into law in a cer­e­mo­ny on Thurs­day morn­ing, flanked by a large group of law­mak­ers and activists.

Dolores Huer­ta, as many read­ers of the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate like­ly know, is a trail­blaz­ing Amer­i­can labor leader and civ­il rights activist. In her ear­ly years, Huer­ta worked as a teacher while also rais­ing a child as a sin­gle moth­er. After see­ing the pover­ty her stu­dents faced as chil­dren of farm work­ers, Huer­ta joined the ris­ing move­ments to improve the liv­ing and work­ing con­di­tions of farm work­ers.

In 1962, she, along with César Chávez, formed the Nation­al Farm Work­ers Asso­ci­a­tion (NFWA), which even­tu­al­ly became the Unit­ed Farm Work­ers of Amer­i­ca. She also helped orga­nize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in Cal­i­for­nia.

Huer­ta worked with­in these move­ments to also fight against gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and went on to work on many oth­er issues, includ­ing immi­gra­tion reform, income inequal­i­ty, and the rights of women and those in the Lati­no com­mu­ni­ty.

She received many awards for her life­time of ser­vice, includ­ing the Eugene V. Debs Foun­da­tion Out­stand­ing Amer­i­can Award, the Unit­ed States Pres­i­den­tial Eleanor Roo­sevelt Award for Human Rights and the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom.

She was also the first Lati­na in the Nation­al Women’s Hall of Fame.

“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 Sen­a­tor Rebec­ca Sal­daña (D‑37th Dis­trict).

“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.”

April is Women’s His­to­ry Month, and Ortiz-Self is proud to have suc­cess­ful­ly guid­ed House Bill 1906 through the leg­isla­tive process. While Dolores Huer­ta Day will no doubt be cel­e­brat­ed and observed dur­ing this leg­isla­tive ses­sion, it will not be offi­cial­ly added to the state’s list of hol­i­days until lat­er this year because the bill does not take effect until nine­ty days after the date the Leg­is­la­ture adjourns.

“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. A war­rior whose unwa­ver­ing quest for civ­il rights, equal­i­ty and jus­tice con­tin­ue to make our nation a more per­fect union,” said Ortiz-Self.

“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!”

” Ms. Huer­ta made her mark as a cease­less advo­cate for work­ers and civ­il rights,” remarked Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee. “Work­ers every­where are indebt­ed to [Dolores] for her pas­sion, deter­mi­na­tion and hard work. I have been inspired by her work for labor rights through­out my entire career.”

Wash­ing­ton is the sec­ond state in the nation to rec­og­nize Dolores Huer­ta Day, after Cal­i­for­nia, which adopt­ed sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in 2018 (AB 2455).

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One Comment

  1. A tru­ly well deserved hon­or.

    # by Aracelis Lincoln :: April 22nd, 2019 at 1:36 AM