Civil Rights Activist Dolores Huerta Receives Honorary Doctorate from Yale University

Dolores Huerta was on the front lines of change for the civil rights of farm workers, co-founding the National Farm Workers Association (now United Farm Workers) in 1962

Dolores Huerta

Photo:Jay Godwin

Dolores Huerta was on the front lines of change for the civil rights of farm workers, co-founding the National Farm Workers Association (now United Farm Workers) in 1962. The iconic activist continues to be dedicated to the movement and her contributions and efforts were recently recognized by Yale University. She was presented with the Honorary Doctor of Laws during their commencement ceremonies in May. The 91-year-old continues to work through her organization, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, which recently aided communities in need during the pandemic with $250,000 in assistance.

“This honorary doctorate honors workers who sustain society but are often not rewarded, recognized or respected. A formal education obligates one to serve workers and create a world of justice,” Huerta said, according to a press release.

She was one of nine individuals honored that day alongside film director Ava DeVernay, Doctor of Fine Arts, and author Judy Blume, Doctor of letters. “From the fields to the state house, you have united people in pursuit of justice,” Yale University President Peter Salovery said of Huerta. “Your skills as an organizer are matched by the strength of your convictions that there is dignity in labor, that rights are worth fighting for and that people power is the strongest force on earth.”

Among her greatest accomplishments is that she successfully negotiated a contract between the United Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee and the Schenley Wine Company in 1966. It was the first time that farm workers “were able to effectively bargain with an agricultural enterprise.”

More recently, The Dolores Huerta Foundation sponsored SB 721 which would require the governor of California to proclaim August 26 as California Farmworker Day. The state is the top agricultural producing state in the U.S., bringing in more than $50 billion from agricultural products in 2019, and producing more than 13 percent of the United States’ agricultural value, The Desert Review reported. More than half of the 3 million farm workers in the U.S. work in California.

She’s clearly not showing any signs of stopping her life’s work and continues to be recognized for her efforts. The honorary doctorate is one of the many honors she’s been bestowed in the last few years including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, the Outstanding Labor Leader Award for the California State Senate, and the American Civil Liberties Union Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award. She was also the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

“We as women should shine light on our accomplishments and not feel egotistical when we do. It’s a way to let the world know that we as women can accomplish great things,” she previously said. We want to congratulation Dolores on her latest honor and we’ll continue to recognize the work she’s doing to aid farm workers and minorities in the U.S.

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